Time had slowed almost to a crawl for Evangeline and John and by 9 p.m. they were both watching the clock trying to stay focused on work instead of looking forward to alone and down time together. By 9:15 Van had closed her law books and was taking a bath. By 10 p.m. she was debating how daringly she wanted to dress to further ignite Johnís passion. She let time make her choice as she saw headlights turn into her drivway; slipping into indigo colored lingerie with a top that stopped mid-thigh and a floor-length robe that fluttered and flowed with the tiniest hint of a breeze. She considered for a moment, and then tossed the matching panties back in the draw. She was pinning up the last of her hair when the bell rang, "Okay McBain, Iím so ready for you." and so clearly forward! she thought to herself.
Opening the door Johnís back was to her, he turned saw her and stumbled into her foyer. Evangeline extended her arm to catch him from falling. John righted himself, "Thatís twice today youíve knocked me off my feet. Good thing I didnít bring lattes, they would be all over your floor by now." He gave her a long and admiring look that started at her feet and finished at the loose pile of hair waiting for his hands to release it, "I actually did locate pumpkin ice cream and picked-up pumpkin cheesecake."
Taking the bag into the kitchen John pulled out plates and utensils, Van watched for a moment then joined in to make coffee and set out cups, cream and sugar. They ate in happy silence for a few minutes.
"This is actually good," John commented, "Tasty."
"Of course, did you doubt my taste? I actually also have pumpkin ale to wash it all down if you want a topper beyond coffee."
"No, you didnít. Yuk."
"Yuk? Hey, weíve got a theme going here and I know you like beer. I just knew you wanted to try the pumpkin ale when were stringing things together at the Country Club."
John reached over and wiped a crumb of cheesecake from her lips ever so slowly and was gratified to sees her visibly shudder at his touch. "Speaking o stringing things together, I have something for you. It wasnít ready at Christmas."
She looked at him a moment before she found her voice, "Another Christmas gift? AS Nora said to me, stop yourself. There wasnít floor space for all the gifts you piled under my tree. John, itís too much."
"You got all those other little things because this wasnít ready." He pushed a slender black and gold box toward her. She looked at it through lowered eyes but didnít move to open it.
"John, I love it."
He paused and watched her in puzzlement, "You love what? Open the box."
Still she didnít move.
"Whatís going on? Youíll love it more when you see it. I promise. If it makes you feel better you get no more gifts from me until 2010, maybe 2020."
"Are you saying weíll still be together in 2020?" Van asked as she undid the gold ribbon and pulled off the top with one hand and lifted the necklace with the other. Her eyes went huge and a soft gust of air passed her lips as she looked at John speechless.
"I love when I can stun you into complete and utter silence. Call it payback for practically making me fall at your feet when you opened the door." John had a smug satisfied grin on his face, "By the way, you look beyond beautiful."
Evangeline said nothing, just held the necklace up higher towards the light in mute admiration: black diamonds, black pearls and black opals held together in three places by cool blue sapphiresóone at the throat then one on either side of the necklace.
The kitchen light danced and played over the jewels absorbed into their blackness and tossing color through the sapphires. John leaned back in his chair and shut off the overhead light leaving only the counter lights on the sides of the kitchen on, "Watch." When her eyes adjusted to the near dark she saw the blue of the sapphires gleaming and diffused light swirling in the depths of the black jewels.
"This is what you are to me; in the darkness of my life you glow softly, persistently, steadily. You never dim, you never turn away, you cover and shelter me with the warmth of your attention and caring, and I know how much I try your patience. Like the black and blue of the necklace we work to hold each other together forming one perfect, highly individual piece I always say Iím going back to my room, when I say Iím going home Iím always referring to seeing you, if only for a cup of coffee. PleaseÖ.Evangeline, you know your tears just do me in, even happy tears. "
Van tried and failed to hold back her tears.
"Here, let me put this on you. Youíre wearing the right color to set off the necklace. The jeweler did a great job."
"John, I donít know what to say. I was right from the startóthis is too much! The cost!"
"Well, itís a custom piece so itís not going back. Wear it or stick it in a safe, but itís yours. Now, Iím sure you were taught to accept all gifts with grace no matter their monetary value or lack thereof. Say Ďthank you,í no kiss me, thatís more than thanks enough." Standing, John lifted her up from her chair. Only when he was with her like this did he remember she projected much taller than she really is. Barefoot as she was now she fit right under his chin; he tilted her head back slightly and the necklace laid bands of color on her collarbone and throat. Her lips parted and there was nothing for him but Evangeline.
"ÖLove is said to be the Highest plane/But when Iím alone and no one is near/I whisper softly in my own ear/And I call you/ Sweet thing sweet thing
When he touched her waist to pull her as close as possible and then closer still a part of his brain wondered if there was a donation he could make somewhere for silkworms dedicated solely to keeping Evangeline in silk. He wanted nothing rough to ever brush against her skin much less become intimate with her flesh.
She broke the kiss and leaned back in his arms, "Iím sorry, really, but I do know something about jewelry and this necklace cost you a fortune John."
"And your point? Look in case you havenít noticed I donít spend on me. I had been saving for my future house and life with Caitlin, when there was no more future there wasnít any reason to spend either. Unless my family needs something the money just sits in the bank. I chose to spend some on you."
Taking her hand he led her into the living room and sat in one of her plush chairs made for two and sat her down next to him. "Youíre not a big fan of the ordinary gesture of no-real-thought-behind-it-gift. Red roses? Unimaginative. Plain ole diamonds no matter the caratsósafe and done to death. I just knew you would not jump for joy for a tennis bracelet. I had something designed thatís as unique and special as Iím sure you know you are. Your daddy told you so. Iím just agreeing with the most important man in your life."
Her head was on his shoulder and Evangeline had pulled her knees up and tucked them under her as she sat still in his embrace, entranced by his words.
"Evangeline, I also get how it destroyed your faith in the world for your dad to think it was okay to leave you alone. It wasnít, it isnít even though it was out of his control I know you feel abandoned. You may kick me out of you life someday but Iíll never leave you willingly. Never."
John felt Evangeline fighting for control, the battle lasted several minutes and when she lifted her head a thin film of water sparked on her eyelashes but her eyes were shining and clear. "You said it yesterday, John, there are no words."
Van stood up, turned out most of the lights, checked that the alarm was set and held out her hands to him. When they hit the top of the stairs and the hall leading to her bedroom she shut off the rest of the downstairs lights. There was a beckoning ray coming from her bedroom but John could only see her radiance. He stopped her with a kiss, lifted her in his arms, and twirled her into the bedroom lost in shared emotions found only when they were together.
Evangelineís laughter spilled out from their kiss, bubbling and burbling she couldnít seem to stop and it was so delightful a sound Johnís initial smile became wider and wider. He tossed her onto the bed, "Watch it, my delicate male ego might get bruised. Whatís so funny?"
Rolling herself over and kneeling on the bed she hunched her shoulders and hugged herself, "No clue, no real reason. Iím just so happy with you. Oh, happy with YOUócould that be a reason?"
"I must confess, I had my doubts/On how this thing would work out/Oh I couldnít imagine Iíd still be here/But suddenly itís oh so clear to meÖI was prepared for the worst/Which one of us would walk out first/But we both lingered/Cause it was oh so good/Knowing the way you are/I never thought you would/Try so hard to do the best I can/Youíve helped me become the man that I amÖNo way, no how canít give up now/Keeps on getting better/Keeps on getting better/Everyday gets stronger/It must be some kind of power/Or spell you got me under.
John caught a reflection of them in the full-length mirror in the corner of the room: Evangeline had one arm dangling over his shoulder, her knees were slightly apart, her other hand was exploring him under his sweater. He didnít recognize the man in the mirror gazing back at him; the likeness was a happy man, happily in love.
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