Chapter 16

Somewhere in Llanview, a private clinicÖ

Michael got the lab report back and it confirmed his initial test. Who ever had drugged her had continued to do so. The report confirmed that Evangeline had been given doses of potassium, and no new substance had been introduced to her system. Potassium could cause heart failure in a healthy person; who ever did this was cold-hearted and cunning. They were trying to kill her. Michael went out to the waiting area to give John an update.

"John, we know that she was given potassium. We are working to reduce the levels and restore balance to her system. My biggest concern is that sheís still in a coma."

"What can you do to get her to come around?" John was coiled; his insides were in knots not knowing if Evangeline or his child would make it through this.

"The longer she stays in the coma, the worse the prognosis. Our only hope is that she wakes up on her own soon. The sooner she wakes up, the better her prognosis and the babyís," Michael said.

"Can I see her?" John asked.

"Yeah, her vitals are good, she might even be aware that you are there. They say that coma victims can hear so be careful about what you say, okay?"

"I will, I just want to be near her, so she knows Iím here with her. I need her to know sheís not alone." He felt the guilt of having left her alone, just because he didnít want to get hurt. Damn, life was a funny thing. What you fear the most is usually the thing that comes to pass. If he had only stood his ground, this wouldnít be happening.

"Go on in Johnny. Somehow I believe she knows you are here," Michael said as he gave his brother a comforting touch.

John walked into the room and looked at the monitors and Evangeline. How had he thought he could walk away from her? Right at this moment he realized how much of an idiot he was. One could not walk away from the other part of himself? He sat quietly by her bed and laid his hand gently on hers feeling the satin softness of her hand against his hard calloused one. He looked at her carefully for the first time and saw what he had refused to see while he held on to his resentment. She was sick. Why did he let his pain blind him to that? What kind of sick bastard was he to let his anger control him? Why didnít he step back like she always told him and see the big picture? She had needed him and he hadnít been there for her. How could they get past that? How could she forgive him for walking away?

Softly, so as not to startle her, he began talking to her. He continued to hold her hand, which was the only comfort he had. She had never known that when he touched or held her, he found a peace that was as comfortable as breathing and as sweet as resting at heavenís gate. Her essence graced him in so many ways that apart from her he was only half alive.

"Evangeline, come back to me. I canít do this thing called living alone," he said his voice cracking in pain, because he was so emotionally over wrought. "I lost Caitlin and that almost did me in. Her death crippled and wounded me emotionally. Then you came into my life and allowed me to heal. I need you, so much. Please wake up and fight for us. Fight for our child. I know you hear me. You are stronger than me. Yes, you are. Iíve always known it and leaned on you for that strength, sometimes way too much. Well now itís my turn. Let me be strong for you. Remember what I said before all of this stuff, I said we are worth fighting for. Donít give up on me. What I meant to say is that our love is worth fighting for baby and I love you. I need you to come back to me." He bowed his head as if in prayer; waiting for her to hear him and his needÖ he felt a tentative squeeze on his hand. Looking up he saw her eyes fluttering open and he couldnít help himself, he smiled his beautiful smile. He drew her hand up to his cheek and waited for her to speak.

"John, will you come back to me?" she asked softly with a faint smile.

"Yes, baby," he letting out a huge sigh, "I never left you. No matter what I said that day at Liviaís, I never really let you go. I will never walk away from us again."

"And Iíll never walk away from you again," smiling faintly Evangelineís eyes fluttered never leaving his face.

"Donít talk, let me get Michael and a nurse in here," he said and rang the buzzer, never taking his eyes off his miracle. John knew that it would be okay now. She was awake, smiling, and his world was just how he liked it, with Evangeline smiling at him.

The MansionÖ.

R.J. walked masterfully into his mansion, wanting answers and quickly. He found Sonia in the living room looking nervous and somewhat guilty. What is that all about? He thought to himself.

"Give it to me straight. What the hell happened?" he asked forcefully.

"R.J., the security system was killed and the monitors rigged to play scenes of the mansion with pre-taped surveillance tapes. Our guards were put out with some type of tranquilizer, but there is no trace of your wife."

"Look, either someone came and kidnapped her or some fool thinks they can use her to get to me. Maybe I shouldnít have acted like I cared so much."

"R.J., who ever did this knew the layout of the house and the guards said a woman was involved."

"Well, how are they? You did find replacements for them, since they are useless. I wouldnít trust them to guard my trash much less my person. And where were you when all this went down?"

"I had a meeting at the docks. It took longer than I expected," she said apprehensively, shifting slightly, just enough for RJís radar to go off.

"So, someone knew your meeting was going to be long and took advantage. It didnít occur to you that you were being set up? Or maybe it wasnít a long meeting. That sounds more reasonable. Now be straight. This is last time Iím asking. Where were you when this went down?"

"Okay," she said, "I was out cold. My driver, bodyguard, and I were put to sleep for about an hour. By the time we got back to the house, Evangeline was gone."

"Well thank you Sonia, a little honesty for once," he said snidely. "Now give me one good reason I should keep you alive and make it good."

"R.J., you canít blame me for this, I had no idea anyone would kidnap your wife. I was put out of commission. I didnít see it coming. It could never have happened if you were in town."

"So, someone monitored my comings and goings and got you out of the way, just to get to Evangeline. Doesnít compute. You get a reprieve, for now. Find my wife and I might let you live another day. Before you go, get Tico Santi on the phone. He needs to stop by and pay his respects. Then, call the caterer and tell them that I wonít need their services at this time. I think I will hold off on the celebrations until I find out what happened to my wife. Oh, and Sonia keep the police out of this until we find out what went down."

"Right, R.J. Iím on it." She quickly left the room grateful that she had more time on the planet. Maybe being with R.J. was not a really healthy life choice, it could be time to move on and sooner rather than later she thought to herself.

Somewhere in Llanview, a private clinicÖ

"How is she?"

"She is improving steadily. It was a miracle she came out of the coma. We are treating the effects of the potassium that was introduced to her system. We did a sonogram and found that the baby seems to be doing just fine. Whatever you said worked. She is looking better every minute."

"Can I go back in?" John asked.

"Sure. Just keep everything simple, nothing stressful. She is still recuperating."

"Will do, and Mickey, thanks bro. I mean that," then he turned and went quickly into Evangelineís room.

As he walked in he checked to see if she was awake. John gave her a huge smile when she looked up at him and said his name.

"Come closer," she held out her hand. He moved closer taking her hand in his. He sat down on the bed and stared at Evangeline, his angel. He marveled at how she made him feel so many different things. She instilled fear, hope, and amazement among so many other emotions. He could never understand why she loved him, what was so special about him?

"Hey. How are you?"

"Better. Did Michael tell you about the potassium?"

"Yeah, I believe that was all Sonia. R.J. is capable of a great deal, but I donít think he would try to kill you."

"It was Sonia. She loved to talk to me when I was at my weakest. She was trying to kill me. She saw me as a threat to R.J. and wanted to take care of me herself."

"Why didnít you get out?"

"I wanted to, but the drug had weakened me. By the time I realized what had happened, it was too late. I was too weak to get out."

"I wished I had never let you get involved. I would have never forgiven you if you had let something happen to you." Saying, half jokingly and half seriously, was drinking in every facet of her face as if trying to imprint it on his soul.

"Me, either," she smiled at him tentatively, noticing the lines that werenít there weeks ago and knowing that she and her choices were the cause.

"You get that nothing like this will happen again, right? That you are not going back to Gannon?"

"What about the investigation? You willing to let it all go?" she asked.

"Evangeline, the minute you started doing this, I was ready to let it go. You are getting out of this farce of marriage with Gannon. Then you are going on a long rest with me at your side. Do you understand?

"Yes, Lieutenant, I understand. Now will you kiss me?"

"Now I have to kiss you?" He smiled.

"Yeah, you have to kiss me," she smiled right back at him. Looking at him with her deep brown eyes, just like a little girl, not pleading but demanding, and he complied. John closed the space between them. They welcomed each other back home and giving her a gentle kiss, which quickly turned passionately sweet, he moved away with one more kiss.

He said, "Later. Weíll finish this later, after youíve recovered and you can give as good as you are going to get. Iíve missed you lady."

"I have missed you, mister. I canít wait till later," she said. Evangeline looked at him as the light filtered in the room which gave his blue eyes a depth and sparkle making them look like jewels. His hair fell full framing his gorgeous face and she sighed. How she loves looking at him, touching him, but mostly loving him.

"What was that for, the sigh?" he asked gently stroking her cheek with his finger.

"For all the time we missed, for my stupidity in not telling you about our child. But mostly for wasting the time we should have been together. I will never choose anything over you or our child. You both mean too much. I wish I had realized that before all of this." Her words faded off.

"Yeah, but it was not all you. Iíve got to take part of the blame. I didnít trust my instincts; they were telling me something was wrong. I was just so damn mad at you I wouldnít listen to my inner voice."

"I made you mad?" she said, lifting her eyebrow in inquiry.

"Yeah, because I couldnít fathom how you could choose anything or anyone over me, I would never have done that."

"You have John, in the past," she said ever so gently and not in an accusatory tone.

"Yeah, but that was before I realized that you were my life, heart and soul," he said bringing her hand up to his lips and caressing the inside of her palm with his lips.

"I am all of that to you, John. Do you know how hard it was for me to walk away? It felt like I was dying each day. Not being with you just about killed me."

"Now, we both know how we feel. All we have to do is fix this mess and I want you to let me handle everything, including the Gannon situation."

"Maybe I should, I mean this is mostly my fault."

"Wrong, lady. We both messed up, and I will handle Gannon. You just focus on taking care of yourself, and our baby," he said as he gently placed his hand on her stomach.

"John about our baby," she asked tentatively. "How do you really feel about the baby?"

"Hmm, lets see, happy, joyous," he said as his smile got wider and his eyes sparkled. "I adore you and the fact that you are carrying my baby, well, I think I just might have to marry you and keep you and the little one close."

"Marry? John, Iím married," she said.

"That is just a technicality, one that will be fixed before my heir is born," he said, while rubbing her stomach gently.

"Oh. We are going to say vows before man and God. Well, donít you think I deserve a proper courtship, and proposal? You know the part where you ask me, wine and dine me," she teased.

"Oh. Evangeline, will you do me the honor of becoming my lawfully wedded wife, partner and friend and mother of all our children?"

"Well, only on one condition," she said smiling. "You have to find us a place; I mean a really nice place. Iím not bringing up your children in that motel."

"Bossy, you must be feeling better," he laughingly said.

"Yeah, are you going to comply?" She replied not giving an inch.

"Well, funny you should mention that. I put a bid down on a house right outside of town. It has a big yard, front porch, and a car park ready for two cars. I had planned to surprise you, but if my future depends on a home, damn the surprise."

"John, then the answer is yes, a thousand times over, house or no house."

"Good. Now rest. Close those beautiful eyes. From now on, itís just you, me and the baby. You got that?"

"I got that." She closed her eyes, smiling and content. She was content just having him near and knowing the baby was fine. She and John were no longer backing off; they came back in to each other. She was finally home, and could rest knowing that no matter what; the two of them were in this thing called life together.

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