“Bye, Mommy,” the twins said from the backseat of Eve’s car.
“I’ll see you guys later. Be good for Nana.”
“We’re always good. Right, Nana?” asked Lyn, expecting Eve to back her up.
“Most of the time,” Eve replied and pulled out of the driveway.
Evangeline closed the door after watching the car disappear down the street. She’d been skeptical about letting the kids out of the house, but she knew that was irrational. Eve wouldn’t let anything happen to her grandchildren. Evangeline decided to take this time to concentrate on what was important. Her family. She had to be strong for the children. She remembered John telling her how when his father had died he would sit outside his mother’s door and listen to her crying. She didn’t want the twins to have to endure that. She tried to be conscious of what was going on with them.
She walked into the office and sat down at the mahogany desk. She glanced around the room and realized that the room was so John. It was a dark room, a man’s room. She loved working in the home office, because she always felt close to John in this room. She glanced at the desk and noticed his coffee mug. She was instantly transported back to the day she’d told him that she was pregnant.
“Hey,” John said as he walked into the kitchen after work.
“Hey,” she said, as she kissed him with a smile, then continued carrying a platter to the dining room table.
“What’s going on? Did I forget an important date,” he said following her to the dining room and finding the table set with fresh cut roses and lit candles.
“No, I just have some really good news and I have a present for you.”
“Really,” he smiled, “what for?”
“Just for you being you.”
“I don’t know what I did, but I’m glad,” he said wrapping his arms around her for a more involved kiss. When they broke the kiss, they rubbed noses and touched foreheads, relishing the moment.
“Okay, where’s my present?” he asked with a smirk.
Evangeline just shook her head and laughed at him. She went to the kitchen counter and retrieved a box. After handing it to him, she watched him open it. He was confused when he pulled the coffee mug from the package.
“They must have given you the wrong box. This says ‘World’s Greatest Dad’.”
“Yeah,” she replied with a smirk.
“Is this some kind of joke?”
He took a few minutes to process what Evangeline was saying to him. All of a sudden, a brilliant smile overtook his face.r
He wrapped his arms around her waist and spun her around laughing a belly laugh, resulting in girlish giggles from Evangeline. Suddenly, he stopped and stepped back with a frown on his face.
“John, what’s wrong?”
“Are you okay?”
“Of course, I’m okay.”
“I didn’t just hurt you, did I?”
“John, I’m pregnant. I won’t break. You won’t hurt me,” she said, placing her hand on his cheek. She looked deeply into his blue eyes and whispered, “I love you.”
“I love you, too,” he said, before dropping to his knees, placing his hands at Evangeline’s waist and pressing his face to her still flat abdomen. “I love you, too, Baby McBain,” John whispered to Evangeline’s stomach, kissing it through her shirt. She ran her fingers through his hair and smiled down at him with tears in her eyes.
As she sat remembering that moment, tears flooded her eyes. He had been so excited when they’d found out that Baby McBain was really Baby Boy and Girl McBain. Evangeline had been about 5 months along at the time. John had gone right out and bought matching cribs for the nursery.
He had been a doting father-to-be. He had been so attentive that it had almost been annoying. She could remember his expression when she gave birth.
He had stood there in awe with tears in his eyes as each of them held a twin. Without saying a word he had kissed her with such love, it made her want to cry.
“Thank you,” he said looking in her eyes with his head tilted to the side.
“Loving me and giving me a family.”
“You’re welcome, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
She loved him so much she couldn’t picture her life with out him. The family that they had didn’t work without him. He was a wonderful husband and an exceptional father. Because the two of them were so busy, they had committed to having date night at least once every other week. They had always wanted to keep their relationship fresh and new. He made time to do things with both of the twins individually. He respected their likes and dislikes and made every effort to support them in the things that were important to them.
They had gone to a recital just a few weeks before at the elementary school in which Lyn was a swan. It had been absolutely delightful. Lyn had been so excited that her dad was taking the night off to be at the recital, but John wouldn’t have missed it for world. She had told all her friends that her daddy was the best police officer in the world and that instead of looking for criminals; he was coming to her recital because he loved her so much. After the recital, the other kids had wanted to see John’s gun. They had been very disappointed that he wasn’t carrying one.
He was the assistant coach for Johnny’s little league team. It was funny, because when he’d started, Johnny had an idea that his dad would let him slide. He and John had come to odds because John had a higher expectation of him. When John explained to him that he was expected to give his best and John knew he wasn’t getting it, Johnny had been ashamed and he’d apologized to his dad. Johnny was definitely his father’s son. He always wanted his dad to be proud of him.
John, I know you’re out there somewhere. Antonio hasn’t been able to find you, but I know you’re out there. I know you’re hurt, because you would have come home to us.
God, what do I do now? Please bring him home to me.
“John, are you okay?” asked Natalie.
“I’m fine. I was just getting some air.”
“Are you hungry?”
“I could eat.”
“Well, why don’t you come on in and we’ll have something?” she said and reached for his hand.
He placed his hand in hers and felt nothing. He allowed her to pull him into the cabin. He was really frustrated with his inability to remember her. She was his wife after all and he didn’t feel anything with her.
“John, I’m glad you’re here,” she said and pressed her lips to his.
He froze for a moment, before he placed his hands on her shoulders and gently pushed her away.
“Natalie, I’m sorry. I can’t do this. I don’t remember you and I know that has to be hard on you, because it’s frustrating as hell for me, but I can’t.”
“It’s okay,” she said unable to look at him, “it’ll be fine. Like I said before, I’m just glad that you’re here.”
“Maybe, I should go to the hospital,” John said as Natalie moved to the kitchen door. ”Maybe there’s something that they can do. It can’t be normal to just lose your memory.”
As he was talking, he noticed that Natalie froze when he mentioned going to the hospital. What was that about?
“I don’t think that they’ll be able to help. They always say that memories need to come back on their own. How about this? If you haven’t started remembering within the next few days, we’ll find a doctor to see you.”
“Okay. I’m sorry if I upset you. I can tell that you want to help me.”
“That’s all I want John. I want to help you remember what we had together.”
Llanview Police Department
Salina walked into the office as Antonio was looking at the photo on his desk of Jamie, Lyn and Johnny. She threw a file down on his desk and leaned against the corner.
“What is that?” Antonio asked.
“The file on the missing person McBain was looking for. She turned up this morning. She’s fine, but no sign of McBain.”
“So, we now know the woman he was looking for is okay, but we still have a missing person.”
“Yes, and we’re still no closer to finding out what happened,” Salina said with a look of frustration covering her beautiful face.
“There’s got to be something. I can’t go to Evangeline and tell her we still have nothing. I need to go up there and follow his trail. You game?”
“Yeah, it makes sense. If we can trace his movements prior to the crash, maybe we can get some insight. It sure beats just sitting around and waiting.”
“Yeah, let’s get going.”
On the drive up, they both were reflective, not talking much. Hell, they didn’t have anything in common except they both loved John.
“How long have you and John been friends?” Antonio asked.
“Ever since the first day at the academy. We both came on board at the same time. Didn’t have a clue what we were really getting into.”
“I didn’t know you two started out together?”
“Yeah, and we connected. Both of us didn’t give much away, but somehow we both found a kindred soul. We’d both lived through a great loss at a very young age, him with the loss of his father and me losing my mother,” Salina explained, giving Antonio some insight into who Salina Sanchez really was.
”I can relate. The love of my life died and left me with a beautiful little girl. I still miss her and I know my Jamie misses her just as much.”
“How old is Jamie?’
“Thirteen, going on twenty. She’s the most precious thing in my life. I would die for her.”
“She is a lucky little girl, to be loved so much.”
“No, I’m the lucky one. That is why John has to be hurt, or unable to get back to us, if he’s still alive. His family is his life. The man has everything, loving wife, great kids, and a life I know he would fight to keep.”
“I agree. Something happened; if he’s alive, he needs our help and our prayers.”
“We’re here,” said Antonio, as they arrived at the crash site.
“This is where the impact took place. We barely found the skid marks and then the car veered into the river. If he managed to get out, the question is what happened next,” Salina said after getting out of the car, remembering the information from the case file.
“If we can answer that, then we could get him home. For the first time in my life, I feel helpless, but I’m going to work even harder. He has to be found.”
“You love him, don’t you?”
“Yeah, like a brother and he is my best friend,” Antonio said, looking around the area.
“Me, too. So together we will get him home, deal?”
Antonio was beginning to see why John admired her so much. Although beautiful she had an inner strength, and certain stillness, that was completely comforting and for him a little unsettling.
Salina was a good listener, and she could read the stillness of a person. Right now, she was aware that she made Senor Vega very uncomfortable and the woman in her was very pleased. Only now was not the time. Her focus was on John and getting him back to his family. She knew how much they mattered to him and how important family was to them both.
“Look, let’s go check out the cabins up here. Maybe we can find out something.” Antonio hoped that they would turn up something, because they needed a break in the case.
“What do we have to lose?”
They both turned at the same time and headed for the car. Both were reflective and somber, not holding out much hope. Yet both knew that they would feel better if they did everything possible to find John McBain and bring him home.
They drove on, stopping and questioning the families or occupants that were either living or vacationing in the homes in these mountains. They even stopped and talked to people brave enough to camp out this time of year, still no new leads. No one that they’d talked to had spotted him.
They kept their search to a thirty-mile radius. If McBain was hurt, maybe he tried to get some help, and perhaps he wasn’t strong enough to get much farther. They finally arrived at a familiar place. Antonio and Jessica used to meet here until he figured out it just wasn’t going to work for them.