Chapter 2: You Canít Change That
"Nora, I swear to God, if you donít get off of my case about John...."
I trail off, not knowing what I can possibly do to shut her up. And obviously she knows that because she stands in front of my desk with her hands on her hips, smirking and willing me with her eyes to finish my threat.
"Evangeline, all Iím saying is that you obviously still love John. You miss him and despite your many protests, you want him back. And he will come running if you would only tell him that."
"Nora, I canít keep going over this. Day in and day out, you, my mother and Michael are going on and on about John. Whether or not we should get back together. All of you are driving me more nuts that John ever has or ever will."
"Aha! You do want him back! And you canít say that you donít because Iíve been to your apartment. His clothes are still in the closet, his toothbrush still in the bathroom and all of the pictures of you and him are turned face up."
"Nora what were you doing in my closet?"
"You know what, Evangeline? The next time you need help deciding what to wear to court, ask your mother, since youíre so suspicious of me."
She feigns being hurt, but I know that she isnít serious. She just thinks that if she lets me think that Iíve hurt her feelings, Iíll admit that I want John back to appease her. I miss being able to see John whenever I want, but we both realized that it would be safer for both of us if no one knew that we were back together. I would be safe from the killer, who is obviously trying to get to John and John would be safe from my mother. She tends to go nuts sometimes and her reaction to John gets more and more violent each time they see each other.
"Nora, just let me finish typing this page and then we can go, okay? Thereís a bag of DumDums in the bottom drawer of the filing cabinet, you can have some if you want."
Just like I thought she would, Nora heads over to the filing cabinet and begins to rummage through the bottom drawer. Thatís where I normally keep my snacks, the healthier ones like granola bars and rice cakes at the top, the unhealthy ones like lollipops and Doritos at the bottom. Whenever Iím working too hard on a case to stop to order and eat lunch, I dig something out of the drawer to snack on until I can take a break.
Nora looks up from the jumbo sized bag of lollipops and grins. "Donít think Iím not onto you. As soon as I get out of my candy euphoria, Iím going to start nagging again. Eventually youíll get annoyed and yell something out to shut me up. And with the way that you yell, John will definitely hear it wherever he is. See Iíve got this down to a science."
I nod distractedly as I save the file that Iím working on and power down the system. I stand and grab my purse and say to Nora, "Come on. You can have the candy, since I know you probably had no plans to relinquish it."
She gets up and we walk out of my office. Nora goes to call the elevator while I lock the door. Normally I would take the stairs, but they donít have security cameras and I promised John that I would be extra careful.
Twenty minutes later, Nora and I are comfortable on her living room chair, with a bowl of Cheetos between us and Coyote Ugly in the DVD player. Itís our bimonthly Girls Night In, and we always start with Coyote Ugly because itís our favourite movie. You think weíd get tired of it, but we love it more and more every time we watch it.
Ten minutes into the movie, the doorbell rings. While Nora answers it, she sends me to get some drinks from the kitchen. I put a few cans of ginger ale on a tray and bring them out to the living room, where Iím surprised to see Michael and John. John is blindfolded and is holding on to the collar of Michael shirt. I just know that when John finds out where he is, Michael is going to be in trouble. Before I can say anything, John says to Michael, "If you had to drop something off for Nora, why didnít you just say that instead of being so secretive? And why do I have to wear this blindfold if thatís the case?"
"Well you still have to get your surprise and you need the blindfold for that."
I glance at Nora, but she conveniently canít meet my gaze. And the whole game is up. "I can not believe that you two ambushed us!"
As soon as John hears my voice, he pulls off the blindfold and simultaneously tightens his grip on Michaelís collar, making it uncomfortable for him to breathe.
"Michael, you didnít plan this, did you? Because you would never be so stupid, right?"
"Hey man, you were miserable. Hate me all you want, but I did this for you."
I turn to Nora, about to ream her out, but she moves closer to Michael. "Iím with Michael on this one. And let me tell you both, you arenít leaving until you make up with each other. And no amount of bullying, threats and physical harm is going to make us change our minds."
"What about if we just kill you both," I mutter. John bites his lip to keep to smiling and I have to admit that even though I should be mad at Nora and Michael, Iím not. I get an opportunity to see John and I havenít seen him in a whole week. And they really do mean well.
Nora and Michael exchange pleased glances and Nora says, "Weíll leave you two alone to talk. And donít even think about trying to sneak out the front door, the burglar alarm is on, and just for this special occasion I changed the code to one Evangeline doesnít know."
Chuckling, they go into the kitchen, leaving John and I in the living room. As soon as theyíre out of sight, John leans towards me and kisses me lightly, then pulls me into a a hug.
"Iíve wanted to do that all week," he whispers into my hair.
"I know. Iíve missed you. And I guess it showed more that it did before we got back together."
We whisper to each other for a while, catching up with one another. But each time Michael or Nora come out to check on us, we pretend to ignore each other. After about two hours of this, they get fed up and come back into the living room.
"Fine. You guys want to act like babies, weíll treat you like them. But you will talk and you will make up, if it means I have to have the both of you in here for a week. And if it comes down to that, neither of you will be allowed to wash your hair."
Now I know she must be getting desperate. Both she and Michael try to coax us into the sofa so weíre sitting next to one another, but we stay where we are, sitting right across from each other. So they take the sofa instead.
"Evangeline, do you still love John?"
I glare at Nora, but suddenly a light bulb goes off in my head and I decide to play along.
"Maybe." All three of them stare at me, shocked, and I know that Iím not getting out of this unless I tell the truth, something I normally always do. "Okay, yes."
"Thatís better. Michael your turn."
He takes a deep breath and gulps, and for a second, I feel sorry for him. No matter how this turns out, John is still going to kill him or at least very seriously hurt him.
"Okay. John. Do you love Evangeline?"
I glance sharply at John, because I know that heís about to tell the full truth and I want him to give them an evasive answer. Weíll play around with their minds for a little while this way. He must have understood that look because he says, "I care about her very much and sheís the only woman I want."
Nora and Michael start yelling at him and while it is funny, itís not fair for John to have to take all the heat.
"You guys, itís okay. Iíll settle for that, because I know thatís all that Iím going to get right now."
Michael comes to stand in front of me. "No you wonít Evangeline. John loves you, we all know that, including you. But you need and deserve the words, so donít settle for that. He can obviously manage to be miserable for a little while longer, because you shouldnít take him back until he admits it. And heís going to admit it tonight because we all have to go to work tomorrow."
Meanwhile, Nora is insulting Johnís intelligence in every language she possibly can and thatís a lot.
"Juro al dios que usted debe ser como el asno más grande del gato del mundo."
Sheís not fluent in many languages, but she can swear and insult people in almost every world language. This goes on for a few minutes more until I canít take it anymore. John just looks so funny trying to figure out what sheís saying and I start laughing. Everyone stops talking and after a little while, John is laughing too.
Nora and Michael both look like theyíre about to cry, theyíre so upset. "Evangeline what in the world is so funny?"
"John and I got together 2 weeks ago. And the two of you went through so much trouble to trick us into talking to each other so we would get back together.":
"No you didnít. You would have told me if you two had gotten back together, right?"
I look at John and we both stop smiling. "Nora, we didnít tell anyone for a good reason. If the killer thinks that John and I are broken up, heíll have no reason to target me anymore and Iíll probably be safer."
"You two werenít together when the killer kidnapped you," Michael interjects.
"We know that Michael, but this is our best bet right now. We would have told you two as soon as we could, so donít think that we were going behind your backs."
Nora smiles faintly. "I should be mad at both of you, especially Evangeline, but Iím just too happy for you both. Congratulations."
I reach over to hug her. "Thank you Nora. Weíre happy for us both too."
Michael comes over to hug me also, a wide grin on his face. "Welcome back E. We missed you. Maybe not as much as Johnny, but still a lot."
I know that I probably have the hugest grin on my face, judging from the way that everyone is looking at me, but at least Iím not alone. We all sit chatting for a while before Nora looks at her watch and says, "Okay, John and Michael, itís been nice having you, but now that our mission is complete, you guys are going to have to go. Evangeline and I have a lot of girl-talk to catch up on, and seeing as it is Girls Night In...."
John laughs. "Alright Nora, weíll go away so you and Evangeline can chat. Michael still owes me dinner anyway."
Michael says his good-byes and goes outside, and after telling John goodnight, Nora excuses herself to give us some privacy.
"So this was an eventful night."
John smiles. "Yeah it was. Iím a little scared of what Nora and Michael might have done if we werenít already together and we refused to talk to each other."
"Scared? I was terrified. Not being able to wash my hair for a week?"
"Iím sure itís not that bad, but we donít have to worry about it. So whatís the plan for the next clandestine meeting?"
"Iíve decided that I donít want this to be a secret anymore."
Johnís hands reach out to circle my waist and pull me closer to him. "You decided, huh?"
"Yeah, I did. But considering who we just told, we shouldn't have to worry about that. Seriously though, my mother can't rule my life anymore and for once, I'm going to do what makes me happy even if it doesn't make her happy. And as for the killer... I refuse to let him get his own way. He wants to orchestrate your life, make you miserable. You can't let him do that."
"I agree. So you wanna take this thing back out the closet?"
I grin, thinking back to the night a year ago that I said almost those exact words. I never thought that hearing them would make me so happy.
He grins and dips his head to kiss me softly. My eyes slide closed involuntarily and I get that familiar fluttering feeling in my chest. When John surrenders my lips, I sigh and then breath in deeply, taking in his scent to hold onto for the rest of the night. Not that I can forget. He winks and squeezes me tightly before going out the door and I turn to go back into the living room where Nora is waiting with a grin.
"Please, please, please Evangeline, don't start getting all starry-eyed and moony. You'll keep drifting off if you do, and then I'll never get the full scoop."
"And here I was thinking that you just wanted my undivided attention, when all you really want is gossip."
"Well that is all you're good for tonight. You and I both know that there is no way you'll be able to hold a coherent, intelligent conversation tonight."
I hit her lightly and take my seat on the couch next to her. Laughing, Nora restarts the movie and we settle down for a night of gossip, Cheetos, Coyote Ugly and laughter.