Fire by HunterEyelandgrl

Chapter 3

1Rodiís

After standing on the sidewalk in front of my house for fifteen minutes arguing over whose car we should take, one of us came up with the idea of us both driving our own cars, and meeting each other at Rodiís.

And itís a good thing too, because the when I walked into Rodiís having arrived a few minutes before John, who should I see but RJ?

I tried my hardest to find a seat without him noticing me, but to no avail. He sidled up to me.

"Hello Evangeline."

"Hi RJ." I respond, praying desperately that he wonít want to talk long.

Unfortunately he does. And even more unfortunate, John walks into Rodiís, looking around in an attempt to find me.

When he locates me, he smiles and walks up to me, unaware that RJ is behind me.

"Howíd you manage to beat me here?"

Before I can reply, RJ reveals himself to John and says, "I thought that you said that you two had broken up."

"Not that itís any of your business Gannon, but we happen to be working on a case together."

RJ turns to me and says, "Iíll see you later then." and walks over to where he was sitting before.

John takes a seat beside me at the bar and we place our orders.

"That was close." John whispers.

"Yeah. Heís watching us."

"Really? How can you tell?"

"I just can. It feels like someone is beaming a laser on me."

"He doesnít buy that weíre broken up."

"Thatís probably because I told him we had a huge fight and here we are "discussing a case" over a burger and fries."

"What are we gonna do?"

"I have an idea."

He groans almost inaudibly and emphatically shakes his head. "Your ideas have this tendency to put me on edge. I donít know, maybe itís because theyíre always so dangerous."

I canít help but smile at that. "This one isnít dangerous at all."

"Okay, letís hear it."

"Itís fairly easy. We keep whispering and Iíll pretend to get mad and walk away. Then you can leave after you finish your drink or whatever and meet me somewhere."

"I think RJís smart enough to catch on to that."

I shoot him an annoyed look. Hey look, my ideas taken affect already, and Iím not even acting yet. I hate it that he shoots down every good idea I have.

"Do you have a better idea?"

"What if we do something so unpredictable, that itíll shock RJ into thinking that weíre broken up."

"Like?"

"Like I make a move on you and you pretend to get mad and slap me. And then you leave. Of course without making a scene, since the only person we want to witness this is RJ."

"Itís a good idea except Iíll have to hit you hard enough for him to buy that Iím really mad, and I donít want to hurt you. And I wonít get to eat. I havenít eaten anything all day."

"Well if you hit me hard enough for it to hurt, then when we meet up, bring an ice pack with you. And we donít have to execute the plan right away. You can eat your burger first."

"That sounds like a plan. But where are we going to meet?"

"How about Angel Square Park."

"That sounds fine."

"You wait in your car until you see me. Then wait a few minute to make sure no one is tailing me before you actually go into the park."

By now our burgers have arrived and we dig in with relish. I eat a little faster than I usually do, prompting John to say, "Calm down. I donít think that thereís a chance that the burger will discover legs and walk away anytime soon."

"But thereís a chance RJ will."

"Not a chance. Heíll stay until we leave and judging on what happens, he might tail one us and he might not."

"What if he tails me?"

"If he leaves after you leave, then Iíll call you. If thatís the case, go straight to the station and wait for me there."

"Isnít that a bit extreme?" I ask.

"Isnít this plan a bit dangerous?" he retorts, in the same tone that I just used.

Once I finish my dinner, he gives me an unsure grin and says, "Okay Evangeline. Letís get the ball rolling."

"Alrighty."

So we start talking about the Olympics... of all things. But I figure if anyone is close enough to hear us, they wonít think that we really are fighting. But to someone far away, our animated conversation looks like an argument.

About ten minutes into the conversation, John reaches up and brushes my hair out of my face, leaving his palm resting on my cheek. The gesture actually did surprise me. I look up into his eyes and am nearly floored by what I see there. His eyes are identical pools of fear, masked with an emotion that I couldnít quite decipher. Not love, but a whole lot more than just attraction or liking or even caring.

He senses that Iím hesitant and leans forward to whisper, "Youíll be fine. Just be careful out there." in my ear. And suddenly, Iím seeing red. Iím not angry at him, but at RJ for the fact that I canít say exactly what I feel to John or show him how I feel. And a tad at me for getting us in this whole mess. And I haul off and hit John square in the jaw and walk away before I can react to what I just did.

Which is of course lose my temper. I hit John a whole lot harder than I intended to, because I was actually really mad. Daddy always did say that my temper would be my undoing if I didnít learn how to curb it.

I get in my car and look around to make sure thereís nothing suspicious before I lock the doors. I take a few deep breaths before I turn on the car and start driving towards the park, making a quick pit stop at the pharmacy for a few ice packs and a bottle of witch hazel. Right before I pull up across from the park, my cell phone rings.

"Hello?"

"Evangeline, itís John. Gannon just left and Iím not sure where he went. Go straight to the station.

"Okay."

I hang up and turn my car around, heading towards the station. I see Johnís car parked in front and so I head straight to his office.

Heís hunched over his refrigerator, holding the side of his face and probably looking for an ice pack.

"I stopped at the pharmacy and got you an ice pack. And some witch hazel just in case thereís some swelling."

He straightens up and turns towards me. I gasp as I notice a handprint splayed across his cheek, so bright it looks as if someone painted it on with crimson paint. His cheek is swollen and is already starting to turn a mottled shade of purple around the edges.

"It doesnít feel as bad as it looks." he offers.

"How does it feel?"

"Like someone ran over my face."

He sits at a chair behind his desk and I perch on the desk in front of him.

I dab some of the witch hazel on a paper towel and dab lightly at his face.

"Ow!" he exclaims as he winces.

ĎI told you that you would regret it." I say, trying to make light of the situation.

"Well I wasnít expecting you to hit me so hard."

I try to dab the witch hazel on his face, but he pushes my hand out of the way.

"Stop being such a baby." I admonish before pulling my arm out of his hold and, exchanging the witch hazel for an ice pack , press it to his cheek. This in turn causes him to mumble a few choice words under his breath.

"If you want, Iíll kiss it better for you."

He smiles and I lean down and gently kiss his cheek. As Iím sitting up, the door to his office bursts open. I swing around, temporarily blinded by the flood of light. When my eyes finally adjust, I see Nora standing open mouthed in the doorway.

"Well I was coming in here to see if you knew where Evangeline was because for some reason RJ seemed to think she was with me and I couldnít find her anywhere. Why are you two sitting in the dark?"

"We forgot to turn it on?" I offer, jokingly.

She flicks on the light and I can hear her gasp loudly when she sees Johnís face.

"Whoa. Who kicked your ass?"

John playfully points his finger at me and says, "She did it."

I swat his hand down and laugh. "But it was your idea."

Nora looks confused and visibly so. "Okay. You two are going to tell me whatís going on. First RJ comes banging down more door, demanding to talk to Evangeline. Then I had to try and convince him that you werenít with me. Then I had to sit and listen to him gloat about how you broke up with John and he put a move on you at Rodiís and smacked him and left. And after RJ left, I called your house and your answering machine. I called your cell phone and your voice mail picked up, and I know you alway leave your phone on unless youíre in court and it was too late for that. I stopped by your office only to be informed that you had called in sick today and when I went to your house, you werenít there, but RJ was, camped out in front in his car. So after calling everyone who could possibly know where you were, I realized that I hadnít called the person you might probably be with. So I called Johnís cell phone, which is never off, yet for some reason today it was. I got his room number from Antonio and went to see if he was there. I even went to check on the roof for him. After driving all around town, I made a stop to the station to alert Bo that I couldnít find either of you and I couldnít reach either of you only to be told that you were both in Johnís office. Leading me to find you two sitting in the dark with Evangeline nursing the huge shiner thatís on your face and find out that she did it. So start talking."

John and I look at each other and simultaneously begin to laugh. Nora looks at us incredulously, but soon begins to laugh along with us. John motions for Nora to shut the door, and she does so, pulling up a chair close to his desk.

"Well it all started with that whole thing with RJ Gannon and Sonia Toledo. You know what Iím talking about, Nora." She nods and John continues. "Well I kept questioning them both trying to find out what they were doing together, but they werenít giving us any info. So then Evangeline comes up with this harebrained-

"Hey!" I protest.

"Well it sure didnít turn out the way you thought it would. So anyway, Evangeline came up with this hare-brained scheme to get RJ to spill. Pretend that she and I had a huge fight, go to RJ and see him with Sonia and act all jealous and say how much she missed him and stuff. I didnít want her to do it, but she started it before we even had a chance to plan it through. So I reluctantly agreed to watch her back. And everything was going according to Evangelineís plan when she called in sick today and I had the day off. I stopped by to see if she was okay and to make a long story shorter, we decided to go to Rodiís for a burger. Luckily, after arguing for fifteen minutes over whose car to take we decided to drive our own cars and meet each other there. Evangeline got there before me and ran into RJ, who as soon as he saw me with her refused to buy into the load of crap we were feeding him about working on a case. So we came up with a plan which was for me to make a move on her and she would get mad and slap me and exit and then I would leave after making sure that RJ had seen it. He saw it alright and decided to come up to me and gloat. So after he left, I realized that he would probably go looking for Evangeline, so I called her and told her to meet me at the station. And here we are."

Nora says nothing for a while, just looking back and forth between the two of us before asking, "So what went wrong? Because the bruise on Johnís face is telling me that you hit him harder than you would hit somebody for a small performance."

I blush deeply. Thereís been a lot of that going on lately. Blushing, I mean. I actually donít think Iíve ever blushed this much in my life. But I just feel so warm and bubbly inside when I remember the way John looked when he held my face in his hands and how gentle and caring his voice was when he told me to be careful. I think this might be a sign that I might be falling in love. Yup, thatís exactly what it is. Iím falling for John McBain and if Iím not mistaken, heís falling just as badly to me. I sigh softly and smile to myself causing Nora and John to exchange equally confused looks.

A light touch on the knee from John sends shivers down my spine and shocks me out of my reverie. "Hey, are you okay? Maybe I should take you home." he says softly, his forehead creasing with concern.

I shake my head adamantly. "No, Iím fine. I was just thinking."

"About what?" Nora asks, prompting me to smile that goofy little smile again.

"About nothing."

"Uh-huh. Whatever it is, I know that Iíll get it out of you eventually. But I do wanna know about that horrific handprint thatís on your..."

"Boyfriend?" I offer, glancing at John and smiling. Nora catches this is exchange and rolls her eyes. "Okay, thatís on your boyfriendís cheek."

"To make a very long story very short, I lost my temper. I was already mad about the whole RJ thing and it made me madder that I had to hit John to go through with my stupid plan and I guess I hit John as hard as I would have hit RJ."

"Well however it happen, remind me to never ever get on your bad side." John says with a smirk.

I turn to Nora. "I donít want to sound rude or anything, but now that you know that weíre okay, would you mind giving us a minute Nora?"

"No sure thing. Iím going to go home now because Bo is probably letting Matthew stay up later than he should watching those horror films that give me nightmares, much more him. If you need me, though I doubt you will, just give me a call."

"Thanks!" I call as she leaves the office, closing the door behind her.

"So...." he says, looking at me expectantly.

"So today was one heck of a day. Iím really sorry about hitting you so hard, especially because I wasnít even mad at you."

"I donít mind. I just want to make sure that youíre always safe. So if it means getting smacked around a bit, I donít mind."

And those words just helped me make a big decision.

"I want to ask you something." I say at the same time John says it. Great minds really do think alike.

He motions me on that I should go first. "One of my cousins is turning sixteen in a few weeks and sheís having this huge cotillion instead of having a normal sweet sixteen party. I was wondering if you would like to go with me."

By doing this, Iím showing that I feel we have moved forward today. I have never, ever introduced a guy that I was going out with to my whole family and so this is a big step for me. I really hope that heíll say yes, because anything else will really disappoint me.

"I would love to go. But only if you agree to come with me to Thanksgiving at my momís place. Sheís been begging me to bring someone home for every holiday in the past few years."

I smile. "Whatís the matter? You ashamed of your family?"

"Nope. Just waiting for the right girl."

I smile the happiest smile I think is even possible for me to smile. "So does that mean youíll go to the cotillion, even though youíll have to get dressed up in a tux and dance and get clucked over by my grandmother and aunts and my mom and sisters and have to listen to my uncles and my Poppy tell horrible jokes that you have to laugh at?"

He pretends to think for a minute. "That sounds about right. Are you prepared to get clucked over by my mom and aunts and have Marcie and Shannon and Mikey giving you mysterious looks and having all of my cousinís kids jump all over you and probably ruin at least one item of your clothes?"

"Iíll just have to bring an extra change of clothes."

We just sit in the dark smiling at each other until John says, "My mom will make you look at pictures of me and Mike when we were little."

"Good. I want to see them. And maybe hear some stories of your many escapades."

"I know Lori will want to tell those." he says with a groan.

I give him a confused look. "Whoís Lori? I didnít know that you had a sister."

"Sheís not related to me, but she might as well be. Weíve been best friends ever since the first day of kindergarten. We did everything together."

"Including getting in trouble?"

"Exactly. Thereís this story my mom loves to tell over and over again. Loriís parents both worked until fairly late and rather than leave her with a babysitter in the evenings, she used to come home with me. And one day our kindergarten teacher read us the story of the Golden Goose and Lori and I got the bright idea that we could hatch a Golden Goose from an egg and then weíd be rich. And it just so happened that when we got home from school my mom was making egg salad for dinner. So we took a hard boiled egg off of the counter when my mom wasnít looking and we hid it in my closet. Of course we didnít know that it was a hard boiled egg. So weíre sitting on it for a while and then one day, my mom notices this awful smell coming from my room and she goes to investigate and finds the egg in my closet. The reason it smelled so bad was that it had somehow broken open. So when my mom called Lori and I into the room to ask us about the egg, Lori turns to me and says, "See I told you not to sit on the egg for so long." My mom thought it was so hilarious that she didnít even bother to scold us."

By the time he finishes the story, Iím practically rolling around on his desk Iím laughing so hard.

"That is hilarious." I gasp, in between bouts of laughter.

"So seeing as how I just finished telling you an embarrassing childhood tale, how about you tell me one of your own?" he says, leaning back and looking at me with a smirk.

"Well thereís the time that my cousin and I "adopted" the kid next door. When it came to dinner time, and she still hadnít appeared her parents started getting worried. And meanwhile, at my house, we had her hidden in the playroom."

John raises his eyebrows. "A playroom?"

"What? I was an only child. Anyway, her parents combed the neighbourhood and couldnít find her and finally my parents asked us if we had seen her, so we brought them up to the playroom, where she was crying for her parents. The three of us got in so much trouble. I think that was the only time I had ever seen my dad that mad. But itís not a funny story, only incredibly stupid."

"Well thatís what little kids do. They do silly stuff and get in trouble. How else would they learn?"

"Your stories are much funnier. Why donít you tell me another one?"

"Theyíre only funny because you get to laugh at me."

"Isnít that the point? Besides, you were laughing when you told the Golden Goose story."

"True. But Iím still not gonna tell another one. Trust me youíll hear enough when you meet Lori."

"Duh. Thatís the whole point of meeting your family."

"Thatís the only reason?" he asks, only half jokingly.

"No. I want to meet your family because youíre important to me and I know that your family is important to you. And besides, I want to meet the family that gave me such an extraordinary person."

He says nothing, but holds my face between his hands and kisses me with such intense passion that if I wasnít sitting, my knees would have buckled. Boy can this man kiss.

Itís starting to get hot in here and Iím not talking about the heat. Before things can get too out of hand, Antonio walks into the office. John and I pull away reluctantly and I can barely keep from laughing at the expression on Antonioís face.

"I um wanted to ask you something, but it can wait until tomorrow morning." he says, before making a hasty retreat.

John shakes his head and grins, saying, "Now he knows how I feel when I walk in on him and Jessica. Iíll be right back."

I smile and wave him on. When he comes back a few minutes later, he says, "I just realized that itís like ten minutes til midnight."

"Crap!" I exclaim, jumping off of the desk and rearranging my clothes. "I have a hearing in the morning at 10."

"Well if I take you home now, you can still get eight hours of sleep."

"I donít feel like dealing with RJ at this time of night and I know heíll be waiting for me to get home."

"Well if you donít go home and your not with Nora, RJís going to naturally assume that youíre with me and all of our work will be in vain."

"I donít think RJ could even spoil my good mood right now. Iíll see you tomorrow."

He nods and kisses me gently. Just as Iím about to leave his office he says, "Hey, Evangeline."

I turn and look at him. "Hmm?"

"Itíll be over soon. I promise."

Yeah. It damn well better be over soon. Because this charade is wearing me out.

Back | Chapter 4