Chapter 7: Hard To Handle

(Evangelineís POV)


I can still hear John saying that Hayes Barber is the Killing Club Killer. I can still feel the white-hot rage coursing through my veins, making my blood boil so hard that I can hear it. And that all took place three days ago.

Three days in which Hayes kidnapped both Marcie and Rex Balsom, and tried to kill them, they were rescued and Hayes was arrested, the second player in the murders was revealed to be Nick Messina and he was shot and almost killed. And Natalie still hasnít been found.

I canít help feeling that thereís something else that I can do to aid the search for Natalie. Some clue that I canít remember right know, but I probably noticed. So now Iím at the police station, ready to pitch an idea to Bo and John. I walk across the squad room to where John is standing with his back to me, flipping through a file.

"John."

He turns around, a tired smile on his face. "Hey. What are you doing here?"

"I have an idea. I think I can help find Natalie."

"Okay, Iíll bite. How?"

"I keep getting small flashes of memories. This morning I was getting dressed and the radio was playing "What A Difference A Day Makes". I know how much you
love that song, it normally makes me smile. But this morning I literally stopped breathing. I felt panicked, like I was in danger. I just have a feeling that my reaction is somehow related to me being kidnapped. I think that if we can get all my suppressed memories from the kidnapping, we can find Natalie."

"What are you saying?"

"I want for you and Bo to arrange to have me hypnotized."

John stares at me for a long while, before he smiles again and says, "You know, youíve been here for at least three minutes and I still havenít gotten a hello kiss."

I give him a suspicious look and kiss him impatiently. "Okay? Whereís Bo? We need to talk to him about this."

John ignores my question and looks at his watch. "You know, I have an hour free for lunch. We can go to the Palace."

"I canít believe that youíre trying to distract me with food. Iím not that easy to deter."

I put my hands on my hips and stare at John until he caves.

"Why do you want to be hypnotized Evangeline? Do you know what bringing up those memories can do to you?"

"Yes. Iíve thought about it. But if we donít find Natalie soon, itís going to be too late, and Iíll never be able to live with the fact that I could have helped but I didnít. Iím doing this for myself as much as Iím doing it for Natalie."

"What would you do if I told you that I didnít think it was a good idea?"

I smile wryly. "You know the answer to that. Iíd do it anyway."

"Letís go talk to Bo."

It takes three minutes to convince Bo and ten minutes to secure an appointment with a hypnotherapist qualified to help us. He comes to the station almost immediately and sets up for our session. John is allowed to sit in as long as he promises not to intervene. And John will only allow the session to go for as long as Iím not overly upset by anything.

We start off with some breathing exercises to relax me. John sits on the sidelines, watching apprehensively, so I shoot him a wink. He smiles briefly, and I turn my attention back to Dr. Fox

"Okay, Evangeline, weíre going to begin now. Are you ready?"

I smile slightly, mostly to reassure John. "As ready as Iíll ever be."

"As I count backward from three to one, youíll be able to recall the events that took place the night you were kidnapped. Three. Two One...."

....

I open my eyes slowly and look around the room at all the shocked faces around me. John is sitting closer to me, clutching my hand and staring as if heís seen a ghost and I can feel tears still running out of my eyes.

"How did I do?"

"You did great, Evangeline. Youíre amazing. I donít know how to thank you."

"Why am I crying, John? Was it that bad?"

John and Dr. Fox share a glance and Dr. Fox nods.

"Things got a little out of hand for a while, but you pulled through it."

"Evangeline, what you did was very brave and selfless. Most of the time, if you have to be hypnotized to retrieve a memory, it is probably because itís a particularly traumatic one. You volunteered to re-experience these feelings, and thatís not something that most people would have done. You may very well have saved Natalie Vegaís life."

"So you got what you need? I knew where Natalie is?"

"You donít know exactly where she is, but you have a vague idea. Itís better than nothing."

As Dr. Fox packs up, I say, "Thank you Dr. Fox. For helping us out."

"No problem"

I watch silently as John makes numerous calls, giving orders to his task force and procuring all the back up he thinks that he may need. I smile faintly when he mentions spelunkers, the word always makes me laugh. I know that John gets into this zone when he catches a lead in any case, but especially this one. This time though, heís different. He seems pre-occupied.

"John, whatís wrong?"

"Nothing. I have to go, Evangeline. Are you going to be okay?"

"Yeah. Iím tired though. I think Iím just going to go home and take a nap."

"Okay. Iíll see you later."

I watch as he flies out of the Task Force room, then sigh and gather my stuff.

What seems like eons later, Iím sitting on my couch with Layla, watching a re-run of Dharma and Greg. Laylaís telling me about her night at Capricorn, but Iím barely paying attention.

"So this interior designer that Antonio hired is a complete nut job. Sheís going on and on about how the waitress uniforms should match the general design she has in mind for the club. I had to be the one to say to Antonio that the club should be salsa inspired. It would be hot, a salsa-blues-jazz fusion, right? So anyway, the designer pops out these sparkly red things, the uniforms she has in mind. The shorts are sparkly red spandex, barely big enough to cover our asses and the tops are pretty much red-sequined bras. All the waitresses were there, Antonio figured that we had some say in the uniforms we were supposed to wear. Our eyes popped out of our heads, and finally I say to her that this is a jazz club, not Hooters. She wasnít pleased, and Antonio had to pretty much grovel to get her not to leave, sheís a good interior designer, but she sucks with clothes. And the best part is, Antonio wasnít mad at me."

"Uh-huh."

"Are you paying attention?"

"Uh-huh?"

"What did I just say?"

"Un-huh."

"Can I wear your new Stuart Weitzman pumps.?"

"Uh-huh."

Seconds later, I feel a sharp pain in my side, and I break out of my trance, turning to glare at Layla. "What did you pinch me for?"

"You just said I could wear your new Stuart Weitzman pumps. And you never let me borrow your shoes before youíve had a chance to wear them, so I know thereís something wrong with you. Whatís up?"

"Layla, Iím tired. I really donít want to do this right now."

She rolls her eyes. "You canít be tired still. When I got here you were stretched out across your bed fast asleep. Come up with a better excuse."

"I went to the police station today. I had this idea, so I wanted to run it by John and Bo."

"The hypnotism thing?"

"Yeah. We went through with it. And as John was leaving to follow up on what Iíd told them, he seemed preoccupied. He said he was fine when I asked, so I didnít push it."

Layla picks the remote up off of the coffee table and turns the TV off before turning to me. "Is that why youíre not paying attention? Youíre worried about Natalie being found?"

"No. They found her. There was a cave-in and after a lot of arguing John went down there after her."

"And thatís why youíre mad?"

"No! Just let me tell you what happened and stop interrupting. John promised to call me if anything happened, so while Bo was calling Viki, he called me. I got to the hospital at the same time as Natalie and John did. It turns out that other than a sprained ankle and dehydration, Natalie was okay. After her family visited, John and I went inside her room to visit her. She was still asleep when we went in, but she woke up when she heard John talking to her. And you know what she said Layla?"

I look at her, but she doesnít say anything, so I continue. "She said that the only thing that gave her the courage to stay alive was that she had a dream that John and I got married at Llanfair and it made her mad. That was before she realized that I was in the room. She started thanking John for saving her life and John said that he didnít do much, that I saved her life."

"Which you did."

"I guess. A little while after, I left the room so Natalie and John could talk privately. John offered to drive me home afterwards, he said that he had to talk to me about something."

******
"So whatís so important that you couldnít wait until tomorrow to talk to me about?"

I glance at John, who clenches his jaw and pulls into my parking space.

"When we broke up, you said it was because I was in love with Natalie. You said that I continually put her first, before you. Iím not saying that I did, and Iím not saying that I didnít. Itís your feelings that matter in this any way."

"Why are you bringing this up now John?"

"I want you to understand. There are so many things about me that you donít know, so many things that Iíve done that hurt people, including you."

"And Natalie, right? Can we have this conversation upstairs, please?"

He shakes his head. "No. When Iím done, you might very well hate me. I just want to do this now, before I lose the nerve."

"Okay."

"Last year, we went through a rough spot when Cristian came back. You thought that I was wrong when I said that he was an imposter, not the same Cris. Later on, when it was proven that he was, you apologized to me and said that you would trust my judgement always. I told you not to say that. I told you not to say that because I was wrong. And on top of being wrong, I made a very bad decision that affects a lot of people in Llanview."

"What are you talking about John? Cris was an imposter, he admitted it himself."

"No. He wasnít. I got the DNA results maybe five minutes after the verdict was read. That prisoner is Cristian Vega. I brought the results to him first, so that he could, i donít know, begin proceedings to get the verdict overturned. He asked me to keep his identity a secret to protect his family, especially Natalie. Despite my better judgement I agreed."

"Why.....why are you telling me this now?"

"Itís the reason why every time Natalie is in the slightest bit of danger, I go running. Cris isnít here to protect her, and itís because of me. And Iím telling you because you should have known from the start, you believed in me and you supported me. You even helped me to get Carlottaís DNA to test against his and found a discreet doctor to run the test. You deserve to know."

"John, why now! Why tonight of all nights? Why not yesterday? Why not last week? Why not then? Why not before we broke up? Why now!?"

"Because you sacrificed your own feelings to help find Natalie. And this afternoon, when I listened to you talk about how you felt on the night of the ceremony, before you were kidnapped, it ripped my heart to pieces. I knew that I hurt you, and I will always regret it, but I didnít know I hurt you quite so much. Had you known, you might never have been kidnapped. Natalie probably wouldnít have been kidnapped either. I just hate the thought that you went through so much pain and terror because of me. As soon as Natalie is out of the hospital, Iím telling her. Because Iím tired of having you feel like youíre not important to me. My personal demons almost destroyed us on their own, but I canít keep lugging around everyone elseís."

"John, I love you. I couldnít ever hate you. But right now, and Iím not being dramatic, Iím mad enough to kill you. So Iím going to go upstairs, take a long hot shower and try not to do like you do when the going getís tough and drink my way through my entire supply of hard liquor. And then Iím going to plug out my phone and Iím going to sleep. Maybe Iíll even sleep all day tomorrow, I need it. But I donít want to see you or talk to you until Iím ready. So donít try to call me, I wonít answer and try not to come upon me in public. Iím not sure what Iíll do once this has all really sunk in."


*********

"....and then I left the car."

Layla stares at me, wide-eyed. "Wow. I canít believe you threatened to kill him."

" I didnít threaten him. God, when did my life turn into such a soap opera?"

"I donít know. So what are you going to do?"

"I donít know. I donít know what to think about all of this. Thereís this small part of me thatís doubtful of Johnís sincerity and then the rest of me is saying that I should forgive him because he was trying to do the right thing."

"So forgive him."

I sigh. "Itís not that simple. John lied to me for months. You have no idea how it felt at the
Woman of the Year ceremony to have John there. It hurt to have him there and know he wasnít there with me, but at least he was there for me. But when he left and I found Natalieís picture, it was horrible to think that he hadnít been there for me, but to look for Natalie."

"Youíre right Sis. I donít have any idea, but you didnít tell me. But you were hypnotized today, and when you came to, John was acting weird. Maybe you told him how you felt, how horrible it was. Maybe thatís the reason why he told you. Because telling you the truth might hurt you in the short time, but in the long run, itíll absolve you of all your hurt."

I snort. "Somehow, Iím still not that convinced."

"Well then you must be dumber than a bag of bricks. Canít you see that John loves you? He would do anything for you. He is the epitome of the "I" in that song, "For You I Will". Heíd move mountains for you and I know that you know that. I know for a fact that somewhere inside of you, youíre still mad that John saved Natalie before he saved you from that fire. Itís okay, since youíre only human, time will heal all wounds. When I came to Llanview, the second thing on my agenda was to go to John McBain and tell him what an ass I thought he was. I was ready to do it too, up until the point when I said I wanted you for a lawyer and he still thought I was the Killer. The look in his eyes... Vange, it made me super glad to be a woman. If I wasnít I would still be sporting some bruises from his hands being wrapped around my neck. Heís not stupid Evangeline. He knows how amazing you are, he treasures that. And I suspect that after what you did today, volunteering to get hypnotizedĖ "

I interrupt her. "Thatís not why I did it, to get Johnís attention."

"I know that Vange. And so does John. Thatís why he told you though. Because he really gets that you are to amazing to let a secret come between you."

"And Natalie has nothing to do with this, right," I ask sarcastically.

"Evangeline Williamson! When did you get so selfish? Of course itís about Natalie too, Cristian is her husband. Itís about Natalie and Carlotta and Antonio and everyone else that had to mourn Cristian Vega for a second time because he wanted to play God and he roped John into helping him. With all due respect, I donít think that John should have told you first. Yes, youíre involved, but compared to everyone else, your involvement is minimal. He only told you first in consideration for your feelings, because when everything goes down, I think that I can safely bet that Natalie is going to tell you out of spite and Antonio and Carlotta are going to ask you about it. So stop sulking and call John."

"Iíll call him when Iím ready to talk to him. Right now, I might say anything that comes to mind."

She gets up and walks over to the phone, picks up the handset and gives it to me. "Good. Thatís what you should do. Now call him or Iíll call him for you. Either way, you need to talk to him. Tonight."

She gives me a meaningful look and walks away while I dial his number. It rings twice and then he picks up.

"Hello, John....."