help feeling like you didnít tell me because you didnít trust me."
The phone rings, and I vault across the room to get to it.
"Hello, John... itís Evangeline."
I stay silent, waiting for her to talk. I donít know what to say to her, I canít think of a way to justify my actions to myself, much more any one else.
"I told Layla about what happened. You donít have to worry though, sheíll be discreet. I just needed someone to talk to."
She sighs in frustration. "Stop doing that, John! Say something other than I know and Okay. Say something meaningful."
"Evangeline, I donít know what to say to you right now. I want this all to go away. I want things to be right between us, but I donít know how to do that."
"John, earlier, I was really mad at you. I still am a little, but I can appreciate the fact that you told me of your own accord. But John we wonít work unless we both trust each other. I have trusted you totally and completely, but I couldnít
"Evangeline, I didnít tell you because I didnít want you to have to carry around this secret. Please believe me when I say that Iím not trying to make excuses. This has been such a big burden to carry around all the time. I told you because I realized today that no one has the right to play God. Not me and not Cris."
"Did you speak to him?"
"Yes. Heís adamant that I shouldnít tell anyone, but Natalie, Antonio, Carlotta and Adriana all have right to know. Iím going to tell Natalie first thing in the morning."
"Well then, Iíll meet you at the hospital tomorrow at 9. Youíre going to need some support."
"I want you to be clear John. I donít understand, and I donít fully forgive you. And I donít condone what you did either. Iím going to be there tomorrow because I love you, and only because I love you."
"I love you too Evangeline. More than youíll ever know and for more reasons than you will ever be able to understand. Iíll see you tomorrow."
"Bright and early. Goodnight."
She hangs up, and I do the same, leaning back against the headboard of the bed. I contemplate staying up a little longer, but decide against it. With the day Iím going to have tomorrow, Iím going to need a lot of rest..
(The next morning- at the hospital)
Iím sitting in the waiting room of the hospital, my back to the entrance, sipping a cup of coffee. Itís horrible and weak, but I need it. I didnít sleep very well last night, thinking of everything that happened yesterday. Iím glad that Evangeline knows nothing of what she said yesterday, only the things that I repeated back to her. All night, every time I closed my eyes, I kept seeing her rocking back and forth, in incredible pain and anguish, and I canít do a thing about it. Iím tired of people, namely Evangeline getting hurt from the things that I do. Which is why I made the decision to stop keeping John Doeís identity as Cristian Vega a secret.
My head turns at the sound of heels clicking on the linoleum, accompanied with the smell of spring flowers that can only be Evangeline. Sheís wearing one of those jersey dresses that cling to her figure, a sleeveless cut with a light blue geometric pattern, and her hair is swinging freely behind her.
I smile at her uncertainly before answering, "íMorning Evangeline."
"You ready to do this?"
"As ready as Iíll ever be. Thank you for being here. You really didnít have to."
She smiles. "I know." She studies me carefully for a few seconds and then kisses me lightly on the lips.
"What was that for?"
""For luck. For strength. Because I wanted to. You choose."
"For all three then."
She sits in the seat that I was previously occupying and says, "Iíll be out here, waiting. I donít think that I should be in there when you tell Natalie."
"Yeah, I wouldnít want you to get hit in the head by any stray objects."
"Because Iím weird enough as it is, right?"
She laughs and waves me on. After giving her one more grateful smile, I walk up to Natalieís door and knock.
I take a deep breath and push open the door. "Good morning."
"Good morning! I didnít expect to see you here, though I canít say that I mind. Come in. Sit down."
I do as she says, choosing a chair that is moderately distant from the bed. More than I donít want to get decked by Natalie, I really donít want to get decked by Evangeline.
"How are you feeling?"
"Like Iím ready to take on the world. Howís my hero feeling?"
"Evangeline? Sheís great."
She rolls her eyes. "I meant...you know what? Never mind. Hey, do you think you could do me a favor?"
"What is it?"
"Can you please tell Michael that I feel fine and I donít need to spend another 24 hours in the hospital?"
"I donít think Iím qualified to make that decision. Natalie, I have something important that I need to tell you."
"If you want to tell me that you and Evangeline got back together, I know already. Michael told me. Itís okay though John, you donít have to feel guilty. Iíll still be here when she breaks your heart again."
I think Iíve just had my first ĎOh no she didnítí moment. I stare at Natalie and wonder if I ever really knew her, or was the Natalie I knew just the Natalie she let me see.
"Thatís not what I was going to tell you. Itís about Cristian."
Her top lip wrinkles in disgust. "You mean that imposter? I donít want to hear anything about him."
"What if I were to tell you that he is the real Cristian Vega?"
"What? John did you hit your head or something? Youíve been acting weird since last night. Maybe you hit your head in the well. You should let Michael check it out for you."
"Thereís nothing wrong with my head, Natalie. Cristian Vega is alive. Thereís DNA that proves it."
Natalie stares at me silently for a few seconds before blurting out, "That canít be true. Evangeline put you up to this didnít she? So I would be once again occupied with an imposter while she tried to get you to fall in love with her?"
I wonít even touch half of that statement. Itís amazing what a near death experience can do to some people. I guess Natalie decided to show her true colours from now on.
"Evangeline didnít put me up to anything Natalie. She didnít even know until last night."
"Why did Evangeline know before me> Cris was...is? my husband!"
I stare at her, flabbergasted. Did she really just ask me that? As Layla said when I tried to trick her into tasting a bagel with cream cheese and honey, ĎI peep your gameí. It had to be explained to me first, but it applies perfectly in this situation.
"I just got the feeling that youíd use that information to get between us, Natalie."
"I donít believe you John. I canít believe that youíd do something like that to me. You need to leave, John. I donít know why you would make this up, and I donít want to know. When you can tell me the truth, you can come back."
I try to speak again, but one look from her and I know itís hopeless. She wonít listen. Natalie lives in this fantasy world where everything is either for her or about her, no one else matters unless you can do something for her.
"Bye Natalie. Get well...soon."
I leave the room and walk over to Evangeline, whoís whispering to Michael and laughing. I hang back for a moment to enjoy her looking more relaxed than she has been in a while.
"Hey, what are you two laughing about? Not me I hope?"
"Dude, not everything is about you. We were talking about.. You know what? None of your business."
I roll my eyes at Michael and turn to Evangeline, who touches my hand lightly and asks, "How did it go?"
"How did what go?"
"None of your business Michael. It went badly. Iíll tell you about it later. Evangeline."
"Well, weíre off to Capricorn. Iíll talk to you later Michael."
"Capricorn this early in the morning?"
"Weíre not drinking Michael," Evangeline replies, standing up and grabbing her bag.
"Speak for yourself Evangeline. I could use a stiff drink right about now."
Michael and Evangeline fix me with glares so icy, I shiver. I hold up my hands. "I was kidding! No drinks, I promise."
Twenty minutes later, Evangeline and I are sitting in front of Antonio, waiting for him to respond to the news we just gave him, and Iím really starting to wish that I hadnít promised that. He opens his mouth a few times, but he doesnít make a sound.
After about five minutes of agonizing silence, Antonio clears his throat and says, "Well I guess Iíll be working with you two to help Cris get out of prison."
As hard as I try to stop it, my mouth drops wide open. And Evangeline is just as shocked, if not visibly so.
"Huh," is all she can utter.
Antonio smiles slightly at Evangeline. "Youíre wondering why Iím not mad, arenít you? You canít understand why youíre still mad at John for not telling you, and Iím not?"
She nods. "To say the least."
"I know what itís like to wish that you could become another person so that all of your actions that are hurtful will no longer hurt your family and the people that you care about. Thatís how I felt last summer. Itís bad enough for John Doe to deal with having killed one man, even if he wasnít altogether innocent, but he also has to deal with the fact that he tried to kill me. As Cris, he has to deal with him betraying his wife and family, killing his cousin and attempting to kill his own brother. I can understand him not wanting to claim being Cristian Vega."
"And as for John, I see why he wanted to help Cris. He felt partially responsible for Cris being in prison, heís the one that first thought that he was an imposter. So of course heís willing to do anything to remedy that situation. And if it means keeping Crisí identity a secret, then so be it, right?"
"Antonio, youíre wasting your time with this club. You should be some kind of shrink."
And the weird thing is, I mean it. I would not joke around right now.
"Yeah, I guess. So weíre going to have to do a lot of work to get Cris out. Heís going to be stubborn."
Evangeline rifles through her briefcase and pulls a few files out, putting them on a table. "Well then letís get to work."