Part 9

Bells Will Be Ringing

(A/N: I decided to jump forward significantly, I was way behind. In this chapter Cristian has come back, Tico has been murdered and Todd and Blair unfortunately have not gotten married. Jessica never married Tico and is still with Antonio (I couldnít bear to break them up) and Nora has broken up with Daniel and Bo never went out with Paige and they are both on the path of finding each other again( I couldnít bear to keep them apart.) Some drama in this chapter, but donít you give up on me, you might like what happens. Picks up in the diner from the beginning of the 12/15 episode and I used some quotes from the epi. )

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(Evangelineís POV)

"I cannot believe Todd. I mean here is a guy whoís totally committed to Blair. I mean after she had him thrown in jail he would not stop loving her. And he pulls a no-show at his own wedding. What is that?"

I look towards John expectantly, waiting for him to respond. He shrugs.

"I donít know. Who knows with that guy? Maybe he just had second thoughts."

I am somewhat amazed at his nonchalant attitude towards this. A man like Todd, who never lets go of anything he wants suddenly realizes that maybe he doesnít want this marriage after all and takes off, the night of the wedding? If Todd of all people would do that, why should I have faith that anyone else wonít?

"Yeah, well, people shouldnít ruin a good thing by getting married."

John looks up from the cup of coffee in his hands with a shocked look, prompting me to say, "You seem surprised."

"I am. I guess. I thought maybe you liked strings."

"Strings and rings are totally different."

Okay so maybe that wasnít what I was thinking a few weeks ago, but the events that have transpired in the past two days added to the experience Iíve already had are leading me elsewhere.

"Itís still a commitment." He sounds upset about where our conversation is leading.

"Commitment is wonderful. Itís just the paper that gets you in trouble."

His eyebrows shoot up and a small, ironic smile plays across his face. " And here I thought it was the arguments with caterers over bad chicken or bad fish."

"No, itís the pre-nups and asset splits and children whose lives are torn apart. I mean, my God John, I just lost Kellyís custody battle. Have you ever been in divorce court?"

"No. But it makes sense. If you assume that marriage automatically ends in divorce."

Heís not being very reasonable about this and I donít think that he fully understands where Iím coming from. Not that heís trying very hard. Maybe if I elaborate, it might be easier for him to grasp.

"Well, more than half of them do. I mean itís scary and I guess if you never get married, you never get divorced and so you save the heartache."

Instead of the light of understanding shining in his eyes, he sits back and smiles. "Hmm...the things you learn about some people."

"My fear of marriage, is that going to be an issue for us? Iím sorry. I didnít know I was bringing up such a loaded subject."

"I think I get it, why you have this aversion to marriage."

This I have to hear. "You do."

"Because of the strong commitment to your work. Youíre either afraid of failure or I donít know maybe you just think itís too inconvenient."

Of all the damn nerve!

"Inconvenient? Take that back." I snap angrily.

"What did I say?"

"If you have to ask, we have nothing to talk about."

"Okay what did you think I was talking about?"

"I just confessed my fear of divorce to you. And you make me sound like someone who just canít be bothered with marriage because it doesnít fit into my work schedule."

"Evangeline that isnít what I meant."

"Well then, what did you mean?" I stand up. "You know what? Forget it. I donít care. Iím going to go home and cool down before I say something that I donít mean."

"Well then Iíll see you later."

I canít believe how dense heís being and I have no problem telling him that. "You are so dense!"

His mouth opens and shuts, but nothing comes out.

"Dense means thickheaded, just in case you were too dense to figure it out!"

Before waiting for him to respond, I storm out of the diner. Most of the time, yelling makes me feel better. But not this time. This time thereís an empty feeling in the pit of my stomach and thereís a knot in my throat as I struggle not to cry.

I hold out for fifteen minutes until I make it home. Almost before I close the door behind me, the floodgates open. I wipe at my eyes angrily, but the tears just keep falling.

I pull off my shoes and am about to throw them across the room when I realize that throwing a temper tantrum is what got me into this mess in the first place. I need to sort out my feelings and I need help that only a mother can give. I turn off my cell phone and pick up my house phone and dial my motherís number.

"Hi baby. Whatís up?"

"Momma?" I sob.

"Whatís the matter Evangeline? Why are you crying?"

"Thatís the problem. I donít know. John and I had an argument... well actually, I yelled at him for the most part and he just stared at me. And then I stormed out of the diner and Iím bawling like an overgrown baby and I donít know why!"

I can hear my mother trying to smother a laugh, but she isnít very successful. I decide not to say anything since there are more important matters at hand.

"Well what were you yelling at him about?"

"We went to one of my clientís wedding, only it turns out that the groom disappears before the actual wedding. So today we were in the diner and I brought it up because I thought that maybe John could shed some light on it. Only it turns out that he seems to be in favour of marriage and Iím not. And after I told him that I wasnít scared of marriage, I was scared of getting divorced and all the heartbreak that it causes, he had the nerve to tell me that I didnít want to get married because I was afraid it would interfere with my work."

"And is that where you started yelling at him?"

"Yes. But Momma, he was so insensitive about it. And he knows that you and Daddy were divorced and how much that impacted me. I know that you were heartbroken when you got divorced and it was hard watching you in so much pain. And just when I think, well maybe marriage isnít going to be that way for everyone; Todd skips out on his wedding. And the love that Todd has for Blair is one that nothing can get rid of, and I know right now Blairís world is probably crashing down. And I donít think I could ever deal with that kind of heartache without going half crazy. When I tried to convey that to John, all he cared about was the fact that I was afraid that a marriage would fail and not the reason why I was afraid. So I lost my temper and called him dense and now I donít know how to fix it."

"Evangeline, do you love him?"

Ah, the million-dollar question. Iím silent for a few seconds, trying to figure out how to explain this situation to myself so I can explain it to my mother.

"I donít know."

"You donít know if you love him or is that you donít know if youíre willing to take the risk of loving him?"

"I donít know. Both... I think."

"Evangeline, you are one confused person."

"I know Momma, I knowĖ

Thereís a sudden knock on my door and I tell my mother to hold on while I go see who it is. I swing open the door to reveal a very contrite looking John McBain.

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Half an hour earlier

(Johnís POV)

A few minutes after Evangeline storms out, Nora walks into the diner and right up to my booth.

"Was the wedding that bad?"

"Huh?"

"You look sort of depressed and confused."

I run my hand over my face and through my hair, before gesturing to the previously occupied seat across from me and asking, "You wanna sit?"

She sits and casts me a curious look. "Ok, so what gives? I saw Evangeline storm outta here a few minutes ago, but I didnít stop her, because she looked slightly murderous and then I find you sitting here looking like your best friend just died."

I begin to explain to her the events that have taken place in the past few minutes, but she cuts me off in the middle of it.

"Werenít Evangelineís parents divorced?"

"Yeah, but I donít see what that has to do with anything."

Nora just stares at me and all of a sudden, I figure it out. I realize exactly why Evangeline is so upset.

"Evangeline was right! I am dense."

Nora gives me a confused look. "Eh?"

"She called me dense and explained what it meant, just in case I was too dense to figure it out. Trust me, if you were here, you would have found it extremely amusing."

"It sounds funny."

"I have to go apologize to Evangeline. Iíll see you later."

I place some money on the table to cover the cost of the bill and tips and turn to leave. As I go out the door, Nora says, "A word of advice? Donít bring flowers. She might beat you to death with them."

I drive to Evangelineís place in half the time that it would normally take me. On the way over there, I attempt to call her, but her cell phone is turned off and her house phone is busy. When I get to the door, it sounds as if sheís talking to someone. I knock on the door and a few seconds later, the door swings open to reveal a very teary Evangeline.

(Evangelineís POV)

"John."

"Evangeline, um, is it okay if I come in? I really need to talk to you"

I open the door wider and step aside, allowing him to pass. I close the door and say, "You can go sit in the living room, I just have to wrap up a phone call."

I go into my bedroom and pick up the phone.

"Momma?"

"Iím still here. Iím guessing thatís John?"

"Yeah. Iíll call you later. Right now, I have to go talk to him."

"Youíll be just fine baby. I love you."

"I love you too, Momma."

After hanging up the phone, I make a quick detour to my bathroom and splash cold water on my face. I strip out of the dress and pull on a pair of sweats and pull my hair back with a headband before heading back out into the living room where John is standing by a window, staring out apprehensively. At the sound of my footsteps, he turns to look at me.

"Iím sorry," We both say at the same time. That at least loosens up some of the tension in the room. I move towards the couch and curl up in one corner and John perches on the cushion next to me.

I take a deep breath before continuing on. " John, Iím sorry that I lost my temper and called you dense. No matter how I may have been feeling, that was no way for me to deal with it and this isnít seventh grade, it doesnít make anyone feel better when thereís name calling involved."

He smiles. "I didnít mind so much. I actually thought it was funny. And I deserved it. I canít believe that I was being so insensitive."

"Itís okay."

"No, itís not, Evangeline. Itís not. You were crying. Because of something I said. I hurt you; I made you cry. And that was the one thing I never wanted to do. So donít tell me itís okay, because it isnít. You know it and I know it."

"I was just a little weepy since I didnít get to cry at the till death do us part thing."

He smiles faintly at that. "Even still, I was pretty much only thinking about myself. But I donít understand this aversion to marriage that you have. I mean yesterday, you seemed to think that marriage was a fantastic thing and then today, you donít want to ever get married. I know that your parents being divorced has something to do with it, but I donít really understand."

"I thought that you of all people should be able to understand. You plan your whole life out with someone and then suddenly itís over. And it feels like there is a part of you missing, a part that you know you wonít ever be able to find again. Iíve had my heart broken before and I know how it feels. I was young and I thought I was in love with this fantastic person and it turns out the guy was a complete turd. And when I broke off our engagement, I felt like I was breaking off a chunk of my soul and sending it away with this person. And I could never ever be able to do that again, to go through that sort of heartache. Not for anyone in the world."

"You were engaged?"

"Who woulda thunk it? I actually took time out from my busy work schedule to fall in love and plan to get married."

"Alright I deserved that. Now I really feel bad for being such a jerk about this."

"John, I donít want you to feel bad or feel sorry for me. I want you to understand where Iím coming from and be patient with me."

"Iím trying. I really am. But I still donít understand why the sudden change of heart. Even after all that youíve been through, marriage still seemed to be something you were in favour of. And now you seem to think that marriage ruins relationships instead of creating new ones and making old ones stronger."

"John, if you were planning to marry someone, someone that you loved with all your heart despite all that you may have been through together, and they skipped out the day of the wedding, even if they came back, do you honestly think that you would be able to trust this person again?"

He looks thoughtful for a moment before shaking his head slowly and saying, "No."

"Whatís a relationship without trust? But if the prospect of marriage never comes up, then you can still be in a committed relationship without the complications that may possibly ensue."

"If you love someone enough, you should be willing to take that risk."

Despite all that I said to Nora a few weeks ago about it not mattering that John drops everything to go rescue Natalie, it does still bother me. And John still seems to feel the need to save Natalie even now that Cristian is back. How can I even think of entrusting my heart to him when Iím not one hundred percent confident that he is sure that he wants to be with me?

While Iíve been lost in my thoughts, John has been watching me intently and now I turn to him. "What if... what if youíre involved with someone and youíre not sure that you can admit that you let yourself fall in love with hi-them because you arenít sure if they are really that committed to you? What do you do then?"

He gives me a strange look before asking, "Are you talking about me?"

"My, my, Lieutenant, we sure are cocky."

"Evangeline...."

I donít even know what Iím so scared of. My parents always raised me to face my fears head on and Iíd much rather that I told John how I felt and dealt with his reaction than I didnít and the tension forced us apart.

"Yes, I am talking about you."

"If this person you were involved with maybe admitted that he was in love with you, would that be proof enough that heís committed to you?"

"What are you trying to say?"

He moves closer to me and takes my hand in his.

"When I was sitting in the diner after you left, something hit me. And I realized something when you opened the door and your eyes were all red and puffy from crying. I love you. I love you and I want to be the person to make you smile and laugh, and if you must cry, then make sure that you only cry happy tears. When I was sitting in the diner, I realised that you were right. I am dense. What the hell does it matter if you werenít ready to get married? In the beginning of this relationship, we promised that we would take things one day at a time. And no matter how many strings we decide to add, we canít plan out the rest of our lives. So whether we like it or not, we have to take things one day at a time, all the time."

By the time heís finished, I have tears welling up in my eyes. Part of it is because of what he just said and the other part is because of what I have to say. This may be the hardest thing I ever have to do in my life, but I know that I canít be selfish.

"John I know that your parents had a very long and loving marriage until the day that your father died. And I know that you want that kind of marriage someday. But right now, Iím barely emotionally ready to be in love with someone, much more to be thinking of marriage. I donít know when Iíll ever be ready for it, if Iím ever ready. I donít want to be the woman that you look at a few years down the line and realise that you just wasted precious years of you r life with someone who isnít headed in the same direction as you. So you might want to rethink what you just said."

I duck my head, waiting for him to respond, but John tilts my chin up, forcing me to meet his intense gaze.

"Itís too late for that, even if I wanted to. You will never be that woman. You will be the woman I turn to a few years from now and wonder how I got so lucky. Because I am lucky. In the few months that weíve been dating, you have managed to bring to life a part of my soul that I thought had died forever. You have been patient and warm and caring towards me. You excite and intrigue me, while at the same time just the mention of your name or a glimpse at your smile is enough to bring me out of my deepest, darkest moods. And all I want for you, now and forever, is for you to be happy and comfortable."

I grin broadly before saying, "I am happy and comfortable. You make me happy and comfortable. You are my knight in shining armour, even if I donít let you rescue me all the time. When Iím with you, you treat me like Iím the only person in the world and that makes me feel good about myself."

"Do you really need to feel any better about yourself?,"he asks with a grin. "Youíre starting to get a big head as it is."

I elbow him in the ribs, and then impulsively, I reach over and hug him.

"You know I do love you. I was just too scared to say it or even admit it to myself."

"Itís okay. Now I can brag that I said it first. But who woulda thought that behind that tough girl exterior, youíre really a big wuss?"

I slap him on the shoulder, playfully warning, "Donít make me take back what I just said."

"You wonít."

"Youíre right. I wouldnít."

We sit there grinning stupidly at each other until John says, "Itís weird, isnít it?"

"What?"

"How easy this was for us. The discussion we had at the Diner was potentially destructive. Instead it opened up a whole new door for our relationship."

"Yeah it is weird. But itís also a good sign. Looks like I got an early Christmas gift."

"Speaking of Christmas, my mom rented a condo at Stratton Mountain and she wants us all to spend Christmas there, mostly so that she can finally get a chance to meet you."

"Stratton Mountain is a ski resort, right?"

He nods. "Yeah, I think itís in Vermont."

"And Iím guessing that Michael, Marcie and Shannon will be there too?"

"Yeah theyíre going. Do you want to go?"

"Of course I do. I wouldnít want to miss the chance of spending our first Christmas together. And besides, I like your family and Iím sure that Iíll like your mom. What Iím not sure of is if your mom will like me."

"Of course sheíll like you. Sheíll love you, in fact. Thereís nothing not to love about you."

I just grin and shake my head at him. "You could sweet talk your way out of anything, canít you?"

"I donít know. But I was telling the truth. Nowadays when I see Michael, Marcie or Shannon, do you know what the first thing they ask me is? They ask me about you. And every little kid Iíve ever seen you with practically adores you. Iím starting to wonder if you might be a robot, because there is no way a human could be that near to being perfect."

"Youíre a nut."

"Macadamia all the way."

I canít help but to crack up. Heís totally lame at times, but thatís exactly what makes me laugh. It must be love.

Love. I donít think that Iíve ever truly been in love until now, and the feeling scares me. The feeling can only be described as standing on top of a mountain. You can feel the wild exhilaration of being so free and uninhibited and at the same time, you have that nagging feeling at the pit of your stomach, reminding you that you can fall at any time. But Iím ready for it. And I think that John is too. And together weíll take this love thing on and make the very best of it.

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Stuck on you

I've got this feeling down

Deep in my soul

That I just can't lose

Guess, I'm on my way

Needed a friend

And the way I feel now I guess

I'll be with you till the end

Guess I'm on my way

Mighty glad you stayed

_____Song- "Stuck On You" Courtesy of Lionel Richie______________________

FINIS!!!!

HAHA! Got you all! I am finished, with Part I of Fire, but the Next Chapter will begin Part II.

Voice over: Stay tuned to follow John and Evangeline travel this maze that is love. ( I couldnít help it, Iím in a goofy mood)