Chapter Eight: The Final Step
John spent the next few days churning over in his mind everything that had transpired between him and Evangeline. He was at work steadily trying to solve the Killing Club murders, but in his down times all he could do was think of her and how he was going to keep her in his life. He’d been hesitant to call her, almost wishing she’d call to check up on him. She hadn’t. It had been three days since she’d stayed with him and he knew he was going to have to make the first step in joining his life with hers again.
Slowly, he dialed her number……..
Evangeline sat in her office, mulling over a file. For the last three days, she had found it very hard to concentrate. She kept herself as occupied as she could to block out thoughts of John McBain. Lucien had made her go jogging and play some tennis with him for a distraction, but it hadn’t worked. She’d picked up the phone at least a dozen times to call John, but stopped herself. Could she really take hearing his voice and knowing they would be only friends? The sound of her phone ringing brought her out of her thoughts.
“Evangeline Williamson,” she answered.
“Hey, it’s me,” John replied.
Shocked, it took her a couple of seconds before she said, “Hey.”
There was a long moment of silence and some static. Evangeline inquired, “Are you still there? Where are you?”
“I’m still here,” he said. “I’m at our picnic table in the park by Angel’s Square. My signal keeps fading in and out.”
“Oh,” she replied.
After another long moment of silence, she finally said, “What? Why did you call me?”
John cleared his throat and asked, “Do you remember when you told me if I ever needed you, you’d come running?”
“Yes,” she said.
“Run,” he responded.
“Five minutes,” she said. She left her office.
Those five minutes were the longest five minutes of his life. He knew this was ‘do or die’ time for him where Evangeline was concerned. When she came passed the tree and their eyes met, a calm suddenly came over him and he knew what he had to say was the right thing.
As she approached him, she said, “What’s wrong? How can I help?”
With a slight smile, he replied, “I need you to sit here and listen while I try to explain what’s been going on with me. Can you do that?”
She nodded her response, yes.
“First, I want to apologize for asking or accusing you of sleeping with Lucien Teng. It’s really none of my business.”
“It’s okay,” she answered. She thought about telling him she wasn’t, but decided to let him keep going. If he was in the mood to talk, she was definitely in the mood to listen. His voice was slowly soothing her nerves.
“Second, I want to thank you for taking me home and staying with me. After what I’d said to you, I wouldn’t have blamed you if you’d left me lying in the street,” he laughed a faint laugh.
Evangeline just smiled.
“Third,” he continued, “I want to try to explain to you what’s been going on in my head. I’ll try to make it as coherent as I can, but I need you to be patient with me for just a little while longer.”
“Okay,” Evangeline said.
“Remember when we were in Mary Barne’s basement, I told you Caitlyn is always standing off to the right?” he asked. He saw in her eyes she remembered.
“Well, in my head, it’s like Caitlyn’s standing to my right, holding my hand. There is a space between you and I as you stand off to my left. I’m slowly reaching up my hand to take yours across that space, but I just can’t seem to grab your hand completely. I think my obsessive need to protect Natalie and my guilt over ruining her life is what I’ve been using to keep that space between us because I didn’t know if I could completely let go of Caitlyn.”
With a slight laugh, he said “You are one tough woman to keep at bay. I’d put up a roadblock, but you’d force me to dismantle it. You’d try to walk away from me and I’d come after you before you could get out of the door. I know being with me has been like a yoyo for you, but I’m really trying to get passed my past with Caitlyn and get over it.”
“John,” Evangeline replied. “I’ve never asked you to get over Caitlyn. I know you loved her. I know you still love her. My God, you didn’t break up with her, she was murdered. I’d expect you to always love her. One of the things I love about you is your capacity to carry on that love for Caitlyn. I need to know is there any room in there for you to love me too?” She touched her left palm to his chest. “Can you love me completely the way I want and deserve to be loved?”
She looked at him as he contemplated what she’d said.
As her words sunk in, it was like the space between them slowly shrunk to nothing and he knew he’d be able to take her hand. Evangeline was the only person that had ever accepted his love for Caitlyn and not expected him to forget it ever happened. That is another reason why he knew he loved Evangeline, her capacity to understand him even when he didn’t understand himself. He knew in that moment it was okay to move on with Evangeline and Caitlyn would be happy for him.
Evangeline stood up from the park bench and decided to leave to give John some time to mull over what she’d said and how he felt about it. As she turned to leave, she felt John’s hand grab hers.
As Evangeline turned to face John, their eyes locked and their souls connected. Still holding her hand, John stood and said, “I can do this.”
“You can do what?” she replied.
“I can be in this all the way, just like you,” he said.
While Evangeline was digesting what he’d said, John added, “I love you.”
Evangeline shook her head and scrunched her forehead in disbelief, “What?”
“I love you,” he said again.
As John reached up with his other hand and cupped her cheek, Evangeline said, “I love you too.”
They stood in the middle of the park and partook of a long, lingering, sensual kiss that was filled with so many emotions. As their lips parted, they were both smiling and they stood for a while forehead to forehead.
After a few more moments of taking each other in with their eyes, John said, “Okay, now that we have this straightened out, I’m going to need you to break it off with Lucien Teng.”
Evangeline laughed as she said, “There’s nothing to break off. I was never with Lucien. We are just friends.”
“Oh come on,” John replied. “I saw you two making out in the park one day.”
“What?” she responded. Now she understood. “Is that why you’ve had a big chip on your shoulder about Lucien? You thought we were together?”
Not wanting to admit it, he said, “No. That’s not why. That guy is just too arrogant for his own good.”
“Whatever,” she said. “What are the odds you’d witnessed the only kiss Lucien and I ever had? There was no spark and we knew then we were more like family than a couple. He’s always going to watch out for me. Don’t you understand? You, Lt. McBain, are the only person for me.”
With his signature half smile, half smirk, John replied, “Really? You’re like family? I guess I’m going to have to rethink my original opinion of Mr. Teng.”
John slid his arms around Evangeline’s waist and pulled her as close as physically possible. In her ear, he whispered, “We’re in this together, you and me. We can do this.”
Evangeline whispered back, “Definitely, we can do this.”
They embraced in the park for what seemed like an eternity.
(A side note: I was looking up baby names for a friend of mine and the meaning of Lucien is ‘bringer of light’. I guess I picked the proper name for this character. )