Part 21

John called his contacts at the FBI. By lunch, they notified John of the manufacturer of the teddy bear nanny-cam and the sellers in the Llanview area. He thanked his former coworkers for the information and ended the call.

His blood boiled all morning. The idea that anyone would sink as low to videotape Evangeline's intimate moments--

Shit!

He pushed from his chair and snatched his notes from his desk. There was no doubt RJ Gannon was the sick sonovabitch in question. But going off half-cocked and without proof would only level the playing field in the bastard's favor. When John got him--and he would--the collar would be clean. Of course, if Gannon resisted arrest along the way and John had to use force to bring him in… Well, there were perks to law enforcement that couldn't be denied.

He reached for the doorknob just as the door opened. Evangeline stood there. Wide-eyed and staring.

"I know," she began as she brushed past him. "I said I'd stay at work, but I couldn't. I need to know. What did you find out? Did RJ put that…that thing…? Did he send me that teddy bear?"

He closed the door before answering. "I don't have proof that he sent it."

"But it was him, wasn't it?" She searched his eyes for the truth. "No one else cares that much about my personal life. My God! I've been so naïve. He played me and I fell for it. He won't get away with it."

She spun around to leave his office.

"Evangeline, wait." He caught her wrist. "Leave him alone."

She jerked free. "No! He invaded my privacy."

John's jaw tightened. He rested his hands at his waist instead of pulling her into his arms the way he wanted to. "I know he did, but if you approach him now, you tip our hand."

"I refuse to believe he doesn't know we found that doll!" she spat. "The hand has been tipped."

"No, I don't think so." He pointed to a chair. "Have a seat. Would you like some coffee?"

Grudgingly, she sat on the edge of his desk, but she declined the offer of coffee. "Caffeine will only make it worse."

"Okay." He moved to stand in front of her. Their eyes locked. "I've had officers on Gannon all morning. If he goes anywhere, I'll know about it. I've talked to Bo who's spoken to the DA. We're working on a warrant to pull his phone records. I'll know who he's talked to and I'll connect that to whoever broke into your house and that damn camera. He won't get away with this and we'll get him by the book."

She looked away. "I don't want him gotten by the book. I want him to pay."

"So, do I." He cupped her chin, tilting her head so that their gazes connected again. "I hate what he's done and what it's doing to you."

"I've never had to face anything like this before. This vileness directed toward me. I don't understand it, John. I thought he cared about me, but I was nothing but a possession to him. I ignored the warning signs."

He stepped closer to her. Silky waves of dark brown hair brushed the backs of his hands as he cupped her face between both palms. "He didn't want you to see. He wanted to catch you off guard. Don't blame yourself for what he's done."

"I'll blame RJ," she said, matter of fact. Her hands closed around his wrists, holding his hands in place. "Thank you and don't you dare do anything to jeopardize your job. I don't want you behind bars again."

"You'll defend me." A smile played at his mouth. "Right."

"Of course, but I'd rather have you beside me than in a jail cell." She sighed. "I have a hearing at two. Will you let me know what you find out?"

"I will." Unable to resist a moment longer, he pressed his lips to hers. The kiss was brief, but it was effective in soothing him somewhat. "Let me take you to lunch."

"No, don't. You were on your way somewhere and I can't eat." She squeezed his hand as he walked her to the door. "I'll call you when I get out of court. Take care of yourself, John. I won't accept any compromises. At this point, I'm convinced RJ is capable of anything."

"I'm not worried, but he should be."

*/*

RJ's index finger hovered above the right section of the mouse. He hadn't looked at the cam's recording since Lopez showed him how the damn thing worked. Sinking to this depth struck a strange chord inside him. His gut clenched at the thought of watching Evangeline with that cop. RJ and she hadn't been intimate too many times and just knowing that she freely spread her legs for that pig--

He saw red.

A slow ache began at the back of his head and spread to the front. He grabbed aspirin from his desk and swallowed it dry. His hand returned to the mouse. What the hell? He might as well see what his money was paying for.

A knock sounded just as he moved the cursor into position.

"Yeah?"

"It's me, boss. Rex."

"What do you want?" RJ called. "I'm busy."

"It's kinda personal. Can I come in?"

"Shit," RJ muttered under his breath. He minimized the window on his computer screen and moved to unlock the door. "It's open," he called as he headed back to his desk.

Rex strolled into the room and closed the door. "Capricorn is under surveillance."

RJ shot from the chair. "What!"

Rex pointed behind him. "They're right out front and have been there all morning. I didn't think you knew about it. Man, what's going on?"

"I don't know, but I'll soon find out," he said through gritted teeth. He stormed from his office with Rex fast on his trail.

*/*

The hearing ended earlier than expected. Evangeline had a ton of work at the office, but she knew better than to attempt to focus on it. Getting through the hearing was bad enough. But her dad trained her to be a professional and she relied on his ingrained lectures to give the court appearance her all.

Someway, somehow she arrived at Capricorn. If John knew, he'd have a fit. So be it. She wasn't a dainty damsel who needed a man to fight her battles. Confronting RJ for this grievous sin was the only thing she could do.

She watched from a distance as he roared from the restaurant and toward a couple of squad cars. One of the officers left the vehicle and faced him down. As RJ pointed and shouted, the man in blue maintained a wall of calm. As she listened, her façade of serenity vanished. Her blood boiled into a blinding rage. She marched toward them without a second thought.

"RJ!"

He stopped mid yell to face her. "Well, Evangeline. What a surprise to see you here."

"Shut up and listen!"

His eyes widened. Then, he laughed.

"No!" She shoved a finger into his chest. "That won't work. Not this time."

He cocked an eyebrow as he glanced at her finger and then returned her stare. "You're touching me."

She jerked her hand away as if she'd been scalded. So vile. So disgusting. It took everything she had to keep her breakfast down while talking to him. What an awful, awful man!

"You have gone too far. I gave you the benefit of the doubt--"

"You gave me?" he interrupted. He narrowed his eyes and he stepped toward her. "I trusted you and how did you repay that trust? By rolling around with that pig! And that's why all the fuzz is out here. Because your McBain sent them here! Deny it. Go ahead. Lie to my face. Again."

"You want to talk about liars? Our relationship was over for a long time and you're lying to yourself if you deny it!

"I should have known better than to expect the truth from a cop's whore."

He moved to go past her. Without pausing to think, her fist shot out and connected with his jaw. The blow blindsided him, but just for a moment. Just as he reached out to grab her, John appeared from nowhere to tackle him to the ground.

Evangeline cradled her throbbing hand against her body as the two men's physical altercation escalated.

"You will never touch her!" John yelled, pulling RJ to his feet.

"She went after me." RJ tried to jerk free.

"And what?" John gripped RJ's collar. Only sheer force of will prevented John from putting RJ into a coma. "You're pleading self defense. Oh, that's rich." He looked over his shoulder at the waiting officers. "Did you guys see anything?"

None of them said a word.

"You have no witnesses, RJ. No one will back you up." He shoved RJ into the side of the patrol car. "Lock him up."

Evangeline stepped to John's side. "Don't, John."

He gently inspected her left hand as he shook his head. "It's already done. We'd better have someone look at this. Your hand is starting to swell."

"My hand is fine. I hit him first and I can't let you or LPD lie for me. Don't let them take him to jail for this."

John slowly released her hand. He stared into her eyes. A million questions went through his mind. "You're protecting him."

"No, I'm trying to do what's right."

He looked away.

"It's not what you're thinking," she said, moving to stand close to him.

"What am I thinking?" He lifted his head. Their eyes locked.

"That I care about what happens to him," she said. "I don't. I care about you and me. We've sworn to uphold the law. Doing this only makes us more like him." She touched his arm with her good hand. "I don't want either of us to be like him."

The touch of her hand rippled through him. A simple caress really shouldn't affect him this strongly. "What about what you said earlier?" he asked. "You were pretty adamant then."

"I was mad." She released a humorless laugh. "I still am, but the longer I stand here with him staring at me, knowing he's seen… I'm trying not to ruin your shoes. Please, let him go. We'll get him, but not like this."

John lost himself in her eyes for a moment longer. He spoke to his officers without turning around. "Let him go, but continue your surveillance. Your relief will arrive before your shift is over."

"Yes, sir," they responded.

He placed his hand at her waist, guided her to his car and took her to the hospital.

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