Part 2

John left the University Law Library in a daze, or was it a small haze of jealousy? When Evangeline asked to meet, excitement coursed through him. Hell, just hearing her voice did that to him. Looking at her always brought a smile to his face. No matter how rotten the day had been or how lonely his life had become, Evangeline Williamson ignited a spark inside him that he'd considered dead and buried.

Although he hadn't said the words to her, the explosion in the basement had been inevitable. Some things couldn't be denied. Standing close to her, breathing her in…sooner or later, he knew in his gut, it wouldn't be enough. Especially after that surprise kiss she planted on him.

Damn.

He rubbed his fingers over his mouth, the taste of her just barely on the tip of his tongue. The familiar ache returned to his crotch. He adjusted his pants and forced his attention back to the road.

No worries, okay. Everything will be fine. You and RJ will work things out.

Where the hell had that come from? Working things out with the notorious Gannon was the last thing she needed. The man's background didn't fit with hers.

And yours does? A voice nagged him. John blinked. He rubbed a hand over his face as he waited at a stoplight. No, his past wasn't the best. He'd known his share of pain and disappointment. Losing his dad, Caitlin and now, Kathryn--

A sudden chill rippled through him.

Tonight, he could have sworn they were being watched. If he hadn't gotten his feelings hurt, he would have had sense enough to check things out. Just because one of the Santis' assassins was locked up didn't mean the danger was over.

Dammit, McBain!

He turned the flashers on just before he made a U-turn, heading back in the direction he'd come.

Returning to the University garage proved to be a waste of time. The area was virtually deserted and Evangeline was long gone. He should just go home and forget about it.

But the sensation of danger refused to quiet. Unease settled in the pit of his gut. Disturbing images of police tape outlining the shape of Evangeline's lifeless body flashed before his eyes. He wouldn't find a moment's peace until he saw for himself that she was okay.

*/*

He parked his car around the block from her place. Shadows and bushes cloaked his movements as he checked the perimeter. A late model black sedan sat idle at the corner. He squinted, but the street lamp wasn't bright enough for him to see the license tag. Just as he began to edge closer, movement near her garage caught his attention. Gun drawn, John rushed across the street.

He followed the sound around the house. By the time, he reached the backyard it was empty. A firing engine interrupted the deceivingly calm night. He ran to the front, but the idling car had vanished.

Shit!

*/*

"You don't know what it was?" A faint tremor colored her words. With shaking hands, she tightened her robe and cast a furtive glance out the curtains.

John's heart ached to see her usually calm demeanor disturbed. He longed to wrap his arms around her, promising to keep her safe. But the past spoke for itself. He couldn't keep Caitlin safe, vowing to do the same for Evangeline would only mock him.

"No, it might have been anything. A cat or a squirrel…" He gestured with his hands. "I'm sure it was nothing."

She turned away from the window and looked him dead in the eyes. "The look on your face when I let you in said it was a lot more than nothing."

He nodded. "I was…worried."

She lowered herself to the loveseat. Her hands clutched the armrests. "Yeah, well, so was I. I think someone followed me from the library to the garage."

"What!" Dread filled him. He moved to kneel in front of her. "Tell me everything. Why didn't you call me?"

Her mouth parted. Longing reflected in her luminous brown eyes. Then, a mask slowly slid into place, masking her need. She looked down at her hands, now clenched together tightly in her lap.

"I don't know. I thought I imagined it. Besides, I can't call you every time something goes bump in the night."

Without pausing to think, he reached out and covered her hands with his. "Evangeline, that's exactly when you should call me."

She trembled within his grasp, but she didn't pull away. A proud smile faltered at her lips. "I'm not some scared, trembling femme fatale. I know how to take care of myself."

He couldn't help but smile at the strong persona she presented. He squeezed her hands. "A tough broad, huh."

A surprise gasp of laughter escaped from her. "I guess. Yes, I am. I have to be, depending on someone else… Look, I don't want to sound ungrateful. I appreciate your coming here and checking on me. It means a lot."

He nodded. "Good," he said, as he stood. "Then, you won't mind that I'm staying over tonight."

Her eyes widened. She leapt to her feet. "John!"

"It's a police matter," he said, knowing full well that wasn't the whole truth, "and it's out of your hands. Besides, I won't take no for an answer."

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