Chapter 5

Since she was at the police station Evangeline stopped in to see Nora. In New York she had picked up a scarf she thought Nora would like. Van handed her the festively wrapped package, "Post holiday gifts? Are you starting a new trend? Stop yourself."

"No. No. Blair and I enriched NYís economy and all you got was this lousy gift!"

"You and Blair?"

"Yeah, next time you should come with us. We had a blast, or maybe we can all have a drink or dinner some time soon."

Nora leaned back in her chair looking up at Van, "Iím intrigued. How does John like the idea of you and Blair becoming fast friends? You already attract enough attention on your own; you and Blair together would be bookends of magnetic attention stirring men up."

"Iím sure I donít know what you mean, bookends? Magnetic?"

"Donít be coy and self-effacing with me, I doubt John wants you on the prowl with Blair now that sheís sans Todd and looking for comfort and trouble."

"I donít prowl. Besides, her rants aside Blair will never be done with Todd. Iíll let you know when I set something up and you can prowl with us."

Evangeline goes to meet an appointment at the Country Club and runs into Blair and they discuss an outing with Nora. "Nora and I rub against each other, sometimes friendly sometimes not. Weíve dated the same men, but she really stepped up and supported me during the trial. I respect her, even if I donít always like her. Sure, letís do something the three of us sometime." Blair checks her watch and asks Van, "What are you doing now? Do you have to head right back to the office?"

"No, I have work to do at home later and Iíve already been to the courthouse. What are you thinking?"

"How do you feel about horseback riding? Itís a pretty day although a touch brisk, but very nice for January. I was thinking of going for a ride and Iíd welcome the company."

"I love to ride but Iím rusty. I hear youíre the best rider around. Iím not sure I can keep up."

"Iím a great rider, and weíre not going for wild gallops. Weíll just go for a short ride. I have some clothes you can wear."

Van looked thoughtful then broke into a grin, "Sure. Iíd love to, itís just what I need. Lets go to the stables and pick out a horse for me, spirited but controllable."

"Spirited but controllable, the way you like your men?"

"ÖIf they ask me how I would call your name/Iíd say youíre a riff by Bird/and a solo by Coltrane/Youíre the Mississippi River and the whole coast of Maine/Youíre a golden ocean of Kansas grain/And youíre a lonely traveler/On a going-home trainÖ"

With the horses cantering along Evangeline and Blair enjoyed the false warmth and rode in friendly silence. Van cast a look at Blair and decided to just ask what was on her mind, "SoÖhow do you deal with Toddís personality ticks? I mean he has a strong, kind of overwhelming presence and youíre a self-sufficient woman with strong views and feelings. Heís possessive, jealous and really obsessive about you and whatever his latest grudge is with whomever. Heís proud to be with you and proud of you but he wants you within close reach or under wraps in the penthouse."

"Oh yeah," laughed Blair, "Thatís why he keeps making sure weíre working together, or in the same building, keeping us physically in close proximity. Thatís just Todd. Actually, we do work well together. I gather that in some ways John and Todd are more alike than anyone would believe?"

"Underneath it all, yes, they seem to be. They invest all they have in the woman theyíre with; and if they have her they really donít feel compelled to interact much with anyone else, sheís the world, the stars, everything." Van stopped her horse, "How do you deal with all that focused intensity on you? Knowing you really do hold this manís life, soul and well-being in your hands? How can you trust itóthat it wonít burn itself out or incinerate one or both of you?"

"These grandly damaged men," Blair mused thoughtfully, "When youíre so ready to walk away and when you least expect it theyíll say or do something soÖ."

"Wonderful." They said in unison, "Exactly!" also said in unison.

"Evangeline, I doubt you and John are damaged the way Todd and I are, inclined to hurt each other just to see if the other person will keep coming back. Iím sure you both have your issues but I donít think thatís how your problems play out in your relationship."

"True, but John is carrying such deep-seated pain. I want to make it better for him and some days Iím sure I can, other times I doubt anyone or anything can help him, least of all me. And some days heís just infuriating and all I want is to slap him silly."

"You know Blair; weíre somewhat alike at our core. Weíre frightened of being made a fool of and we donít want to get hurtóworse decimatedóby these men who claim such a hold over us that we canít resist giving them the last bit of who we are. Even when we know we shouldnít, even when weíre trying to resist their spell."

"Iíve tried for years and itís just hopeless. Iím a fool for Todd, but not a public fool if I can help it. And when itís good between us, just good mind you, itís more intense, all-consuming and wonderful then with anyone else. And when things are great between usÖmy God! It defies description. I think you know exactly what I mean and so few people will ever have what we have."

While they talked the horses resumed a slow walk and without guidance circled back towards the stables. Van looked around, saw their direction and laughed, "We may not know what we want but the animals are clear: stables, warmth and food."

"Yes, and us off their backs so they can dish with their horsey pals." Blair said giggling.

Back at the stables they changed clothes, reaffirmed having a girlsí night out with Nora and said goodbye. Blair went to pick-up Jack and Starr from Dorianís and Evangeline stopped by the law library on her way home. During the rest of the afternoon and early evening Van and John traded a few messages in anticipation of being together later that night.

Back | Next