Cabin off Route 77
Evangeline pulled away from John upon hearing that cry. She glanced down at John and then back toward the cabin. Natalie was standing on the balcony screaming.
“Get away from him. He’s mine,” she said as she ran down the trail toward them.
Evangeline moved to get up. She’d just found John and she wasn’t in the mood to deal with Natalie, especially after she’d just found out that Natalie was responsible for John not being home. As she moved, John caught her hand, “Evangeline, don’t.”
“You just sit still. I’ll take care of this,” she said and shifted him so that he was leaning against a rock. She stood beside him and waited for Natalie to get to them.
“Get away from him. I’ve been taking care of him and waiting for him to fall in love with me. I love him. You can’t have him back.”
“Natalie, I’ve always had him. He didn’t choose to stay here with you. You kept him from us. You took away his choices. What would make you believe that he’d ever love you?”
“He would have loved me, if you hadn’t stolen him from me. This was my chance to get that back.”
“Natalie, you never had John. You have kept him from a family who loves him. You kept him from his children. How could you do that?”
“Those children should have been mine…” Before Natalie could finish her thought, Evangeline had slapped her. Natalie cupped her cheek and looked at Evangeline in shook. She couldn’t believe that Evangeline had dared to hit her. Natalie moved to hit her back, when Antonio caught her arm.
“You lied to me,” he said when she looked at him. Her lip started to tremble and she struggled to be released, as Evangeline helped John to stand. Natalie watched John and Evangeline embracing each other for a moment before dissolving into tears. She had hoped that John’s time away from his family would allow him to love her. How could he still love Evangeline after she’d taken care of him?
Evangeline couldn’t believe that she’d slapped Natalie either. She never resorted to violence. Never. Evangeline always thought she was better than that, but Natalie had pushed just the right button to infuriate her. In a moment, she’d been ready to beat Natalie to a pulp. She had to hit her. All the pain and fear of losing her family as she knew it had flooded her and she couldn’t control it. John, knowing his wife better than himself, stroked her cheek providing her some comfort from the onslaught of feelings.
“Yeah, I lied to you. Getting John to love me was worth any lie,” Natalie said to Antonio, before turning to John whispering, “How can you love her after all I’ve done for you?”
“How can you even ask me that? You lied to me about who I am. You kept me from my family. How could you do that to me when you say you love me?”
“I wanted you to love me back. Ever since I met you, I’ve done things so you would notice me. You did for a while and then after you told me you needed time, you turned to Evangeline. You never looked back. I wanted you. I would have done anything for you,” she sobbed.
“I didn’t want you that way. I tried to be your friend, but you couldn’t take the friendship and leave well enough alone. When I found Evangeline, I found the part of myself that had been shut down. I couldn’t feel that for you. Even if I’d been kept here, you would never have had that.” He looked down at Evangeline and hugged her to him. He felt her tremble in the embrace and could imagine what she’d been through thinking he could be dead. The anger he felt for Natalie could not be defined. He looked at Antonio and said with complete conviction, “Arrest her for interfering with an ongoing investigation.”
“I know you said that the kids are okay, but how are they really?” John asked from his position on the sofa where he waited for Evangeline to join him.
When John and Evangeline had gotten home, their was a note for Evangeline that Eve had gone by her house to take care of something and would be back shortly. Evangeline and John had decided not to call Eve and the kids, but to let them see for themselves that he was back.
“They really are okay. They’ve both done some crying. They were ready for you to get home. They really missed you.”
“I missed them too and didn’t realize it,” he said stroking her hair where her head now rested against his chest. “Like I told you before, I could hear them laughing and I could see glimpses of them in my dreams, but nothing was clear.”
“Don’t worry about them. They’re resilient. They’re McBains. They’ll be fine. Your mother is going to be so relieved. I think she was preparing herself for the worst. She could have been thinking about your dad. Michael has been a little distant.”
“How are you?”
“Wonderful, now that I have you here with me.”
“Babe, tell me the truth,” he said, tilting her face to his with his forefinger.
“Okay, I’ve been a wreck.” Tears filled her eyes before she closed them. “I’ve tried to be strong for the kids and your mom. I don’t know how good a job I’ve done, because I was just barely keeping it together.” She took a deep breath before continuing, “For a brief moment, I considered you not coming home and I couldn’t take it. I understand better now why you’re so protective of me and the kids.”
He pulled her into a tight hug and just held her as she cried.
“I love you,” he said as he pressed a kiss to her hair.
“I love you, too,” she said lifting her head and leaning into a welcome kiss that took her breath away. “I’ve missed you.”
They heard a key in the front door and smiled at each other.
“You’re in for it now,” she whispered before she rose to move toward the doorway. As he was rising from the sofa, she put her hand up to stop him. “No, you stay put. You almost passed out earlier. I’ll bring them in here.”
“She is even more bossy than usual,” he said with a shake of his head, under his breath as he watched her walk away.
“Mommy?” Johnny called as the door was opened. When he saw his mother in the foyer, he ran to her and wrapped his arms around her waist.
“Where are your sister and Nana?”
“They’re coming. Girls are slow.”
“Well, not you, just other girls,” he said with a frown, trying to tell if he’d gotten out of the hole he’d dug.
“You are more like your father everyday.”
“Thank you,” he said with a grin.
“That wasn’t a compliment,” she said with a return grin.
John had to stop himself from responding. He had missed Evangeline. One thing for sure, she kept him humble.
Eve and Lyn entered the house talking about Eve’s cat. They both stopped when the saw Evangeline standing in the foyer.
“Did you find anything?” Eve asked anxiously.
“Yes, we did,” she said with a grin. “I have a surprise for you. Come on.” She led them into the living room and stood back.
When the kids saw their father, they ambushed him. Good thing he was sitting on the sofa. They hit him like a ton of bricks. The three were laughing and talking, while the Eve and Evangeline stood watching with arms wrapped around each other. When the twins took a break, John looked up at his mother and smiled.
“Guys, let me up for a minute,” he said and moved to enfold his mother in a hug.
Eve shuddered and laughed as she hugged him back. She pulled back and held his face between her hands, before placing a kiss on his forehead. “I was so scared that it was like your father.”
“I know, but I’m fine and I’m here. Thank you for being here with Van and the kids.”
“She’s my child, too. I wouldn’t think of being anywhere else.”
The twins feeling like they were being ignored by their newly found father, made their presence known. Once they had his attention, Eve and Evangeline knew that they would have to wait until the twins were in bed. Evangeline called Michael and he came right over. He was more open then he’d been the last couple of days. When she got a chance she pulled him off to the side.
“Michael, are you okay?” she asked as they stood in the kitchen.
“You’ve been a little distant lately. I’ve been worried about you, but I haven’t been there for you.”
“You didn’t have time to be here for me. You had two children who were without their father. I’m okay.”
“Really? Look Michael, this is me. You know the sister you never had. You can tell me anything.”
“I just had a flashback of when my dad died and I couldn’t see living my life without my big brother in it, so I just backed off. I’m sorry I wasn’t here for you and the kids.”
“Hey, don’t apologize. We all have to deal the best way we can.”
“What are you two talking about all cozy?” John asked from the door with a smirk. He went to wrap his arms around Evangeline from behind.
“Just family stuff,” she answered.
“I have told the two of you more than once about all this bonding you do.”
Evangeline and Michael laughed. She turned in his arms and kissed him.
“Now, that’s more like it,” he said with a grin.
“You are so funny,” she replied. She glanced over her shoulder and saw that Michael had left them alone. “You need to stop that.”
“I just want to make sure everyone knows that you belong to me. No questions.”
“Is that right?” she asked with a teasing grin.
“Yes,” he said, kissing her again before planting kisses down her neck. They were so caught up in the moment that they didn’t notice the twins walk into the kitchen.
“Yuck,” Johnny said when he saw his parents kissing. “Get a room.”
Lyn was standing behind her brother beaming at her parents.
John and Evangeline looked at the two and burst into laughter. The family was all together again and things would soon be back to normal. What a wonderful life they had to look forward to.