"Hey, guys, what movie do you want?"
"Garfield," replied Johnny.
"The Princess Diaries," countered Lyn.
"You only get one," their mother responded.
"Aww, man," the two complained.
"We can always get none."
"Okay, okay," the twins said in unison. They moved to the family movie section and looked for a few minutes. Without speaking to each other with anything more than a look, Johnny picked up Shrek 2 and the two children came back to their mother.
"See that wasn’t so bad." Evangeline didn’t think she would ever get used to the uncanny way the twins related to each other. They surprised her constantly.
Reflecting back to that morning, all John could think was how nice it would have been to be home with his kids and lovingly teasing his wife, until they got the kids off to bed. Only this woman had to be found. According to the report, she was traveling with her two children, had stopped off at a rest stop and disappeared.
The state police had little experience with this type of case and called him in for a consult. He really hoped he could help. He had decided to drive the route the victim would have taken to get a feel for the possible scenarios that could have led to her disappearance. He knew that he was looking at a 48 hour window before the trail went cold.
Route 77 was curvy and sometimes a little treacherous. People usually took this route if they wanted to shorten the distance when traveling from Pine Valley to Llanview, but that was the only thing that would have recommended it.
He decided to put in a tape of his daughter reading a story. He liked to do that sometimes to help him focus on why he did what he did. He had a weakness for women, children and the elderly. He felt they needed his protection, which was one of the reasons he’d gone into law enforcement. Evangeline always said he was a hero at heart. He had a need to help the helpless or those that couldn’t defend themselves.
As he was approaching the Appleton Bridge, he noticed that the tape wasn’t playing. He glanced down for a split second to check the cassette player. When he glanced up, a deer was racing in front of his car. He swerved. The car spun out, crashed into a tree and began to slide into the river. His airbag opened and he was knocked unconscious.
John came to, after what seemed like hours, but was only minutes. He was totally disoriented, but quickly realized that the car was sinking. He struggled to get out of his seat belt and barely managed to get the car door open. He found himself in the rushing cold water and fought to get to the bank of the river. He made it just before falling unconscious...
Meanwhile at his home, Evangeline and the kids were just finishing up the fish and chips she made for dinner. She had made a casserole for their father, since he had an aversion to fish, unless he and the kids caught them.
"Hey, you two, help me get the kitchen straight. Then, you can watch that movie we rented.
After that, you’re both going to bed."
"Man, do we have to?" They both said in unison, as they often did.
"Yes, you do," said their mother.
"We want to wait up for daddy," Lynn said.
"Well, I don’t know how long your father will be. So off to bed you go after the movie. No arguments or you will go to bed now," Evangeline said.
"Okay," They both agreed.
"Good," Evangeline said and then suddenly she felt a chill, as if someone had called her name and she couldn’t quite hear it.
"Mom, are you okay?" Johnny asked, looking up at his mother. He was the more sensitive of the two children when it came to their mother. Not that he was a "Momma’s Boy", he was anything but. He was however being raised to be a gentleman and he noticed when his mother was distressed.
"Yes, Johnny. I’m fine," she said and smiled down at him. He was so much like his dad. She hugged him to her. His head was hitting her in the chest. He was growing so fast. She was going to miss this closeness with him as he got older. He was already at a stage where he didn’t want her to hug him in public. She made a great effort to remember that, because he would always be her baby.
"Hey, I want a hug too," said Lyn and wrapped her arms around her mother and brother. Her brother looked at her and sighed deeply. Evangeline had to smile. Johnny adored his sister, but he couldn’t possibly show her that on a regular basis. They fought like cats and dogs with each other, but they would defend each other to the very end. She wished John was home. This was one of those family moments that they all loved to share.
"Okay, enough of this hugging. You two just want to get out of helping me clean up," Evangeline said with a smile. The twins smiled back at her and gave her a bear hug before going to the table to stack the dishes. As the twins finished clearing the table, Evangeline placed the dishes in the dishwasher.
After the kitchen was clean, the twins filed into the family room to watch their movie. Even though it was the weekend, they still observed their bedtime. If Evangeline knew her children, and she did, they would be more than ready for bed by the time the movie ended.
John finally woke up and touched his forehead. When he pulled his hand away, he saw blood on his fingers. His head was pounding and his vision was blurred. He knew that he had a concussion. Then he realized that he was wet and cold. He struggled to his feet and stumbled to the guard of the bridge. He leaned on it for a moment to get his balance. He closed his eyes in hopes of eliminating the double images. He couldn’t get his bearings, but he did see a light in the distance. He couldn’t tell how far away the light was, but that was now his destination.
The kids had been in bed for over an hour. The house was quiet, but something wasn’t right. Evangeline turned over in bed and couldn’t get comfortable. She had gotten so used to John being beside her, that she never slept soundly when he wasn’t there. She had called him and gotten his voicemail, which wasn’t uncommon if he was in the car traveling, but she still had an uneasy feeling.
Earlier when she’d had that chill, she’d dismissed it, but now she wasn’t so sure that she should have. This is nonsense, she told herself. If something had happened to John, someone would have called her. She smiled when she thought of how he’d tease her when she told him about this. She pulled his pillow to her and buried her nose in it. She thought about their honeymoon.
Both of them had gone to the jewelers to have inscriptions placed in the other’s wedding bands. They had shown each other the inscriptions the first night of their honeymoon. The inscription she’d had placed in his was simply, Yes, Your Angel. When he’d seen it, he’d kissed her gently. Then he’d pulled the ring from her finger and turned it so she could read it. It said, YT & T, Your Husband. When he’d said it meant Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow; she had kissed him. That had led to a night of passion that surpassed all they’d shared before.
With that memory fresh in her mind, she finally relaxed and dozed off.
John finally made his way to the source of the light he’d seen. It was a cabin. If he could just rest, he thought, he would be okay. As he’d been walking, he’d thought maybe he should call 911, but when he reached for his cell phone, he realized it was gone. Maybe this cabin had a phone. He hoped so.
He knew that he was normally self sufficient, but he didn’t think he could take care of himself in this instance. While he’d been walking, it has started to rain and he was drenched. He knocked on the door and he heard someone say just a minute. He was so cold that he could feel himself shivering. When the door opened, a pretty woman looked at him with surprise. She moved to the side and invited him in.
"John, what are you doing here? What happened to you?"
"I got hurt and I’m not sure how," he said as he walked through the door.
"What do you mean? You’re all wet. Don’t you remember what happened?"
"No, I don’t," he said with a frown, "My name is John?"
"Yes, it is. Are you saying you don’t remember your name?"
"No, I don’t," he said and before he could say more he crumbled to the floor.
Evangeline shot up in the bed and took a deep breath to slow down her rapidly beating heart.
"John," she said in a desperate whisper.
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