Chapter 9

By the time Nora arrives Blair and Evangeline have set out a small feast of liqueur-laced truffles, a medley of raspberries, blackberries and blueberries and several varieties of ice cream in bowls on the coffee table. Nora’s present of two bouquets of colorful and exotic flowers promises that Spring is coming and Summer wasn’t too far behind. Van placed them in vases and placed one vase on the coffee table and took the other to her bedroom.

"I did bring a Cesar salad in case we think we should actually eat something more substantial than desserts." Nora said as she decided which truffle to start with, "And I have some DVD’s: "My Best Friend’s Wedding," "The Wedding Planner," and "Runaway Bride." Can you guess where my mind is these days?"

"Might I suggest reaching way back and ordering up "The War of the Roses" just in case you and Danny-boy don’t live happily ever after?" Blair cracked. "No. Ignore my pessimism; nobody liked Daniel at first but you gave him a chance and sorta turned him around, Nora. Now he’s…tolerable. All happiness to both of you." Blair finished with a touch of sadness in her voice and lowered her eyes. She looked up and flashed them a smile, "So how pathetic has McBain made you, Evangeline? Waiting by the phone pathetic? Plotting ways to run into him pathetic? Innocently leaving things at his place where another woman would find them—if there are other women—pathetic?"

"Put that way maybe I’m not so pathetic after all. No, it’s just that we were having a really good time and all, kind of getting deeper into some personal things—you know ‘connecting’," she laughs making quote marks in the air "and then Bo called and blew the vibe." Van hunched her shoulders and rotated her neck a bit, "I was just…taken by surprise that I couldn’t refocus on my work right away like I usually can. Hey, any excuse for us to get together and blow off work can’t be bad, right?"

Laughing they choose drinks and food and settle on the pillows, the floor and drape themselves over chairs while catching up on work and families and tease Nora a bit more about her movie selections. Licking bits of chocolate from her fingers Blair sat up on the floor and looked at Nora and gave her a wink, "So, Nora, do you think Evangeline will knock people out of her way to catch that bridal bouquet? Be sure and toss the garter away from John to see how he simmers watching another man go up her leg to put it on her! You know, you can’t call it a memorable and good wedding unless there are some fisticuffs. But then, this isn’t a Buchanan wedding so flying fists and drinks are optional. Unless Bo rushes in and stops the wedding. That would cause a Texas-sized brawl between him and the intended. They do NOT like each other."

"I’m not looking to get married…" Van starts as Nora cuts her off, "Evangeline is in a re-evaluation process on her thoughts about love and marriage. It’s a work in progress with her—you know when a man gets in your heart and starts messing with a smart woman’s head…she’s just lost."

"I must confess, I had my doubts/On how this thing would work out/Oh I couldn’t imagine/I’d still be here/But suddenly it’s oh so clear to me."

"Hmm, I know how that is. The question is happily lost or just lost?" Blair raised her glass and watched Van over the rim.

"Baby I’m where I oughta be/You make me feel like a woman should feel…Keeps on getting better/every day gets stronger…"

Evangeline reached out to the brightest flowers in the vase and gently touched the blossoms, "Well, I haven’t told John that I’m falling in love with him."

Nora and Blair both sat up straight and looked at her, saying in unison "You just said the L word?!"

"So," Blair says "you haven’t said it to him but are you showing him without words to see if he’ll say it first?"

Nora put her plate down saying "You never told me you were feeling this sure about John; I thought you two were more committed to the notion of having a great time but only with each other." Looking at Blair and back to Van she asks, "Should I prepare to turn this into a double wedding?"

"Nooo, still a long way from that. I’m just starting to feel the possibility, just the possibility of thinking; maybe, you know a life with someone in it, probably John. In it for the long haul might be…wonderful, interesting, different."

"I was prepared for the worst/which one of us would/walk out first/but we both lingered/cause it was oh so good."

Narrowing her eyes Nora watches Van for several minutes "You two must have had a hell of a good talk. You’re glowing. That’s glow I’m seeing, isn’t it Blair?"

"Yes indeedy and I know glow. Question is: the glow of love or afterglow? Oh, right, called into work so no chance to get your afterglow on. That’s why girlie was so pitiful and unable to focus."

"And called us."

"Stop it you two or I’m putting you out—out without sharing the food or the wine in a to-go package."

"So, when are you gonna tell him?" asks Blair.

"Tell him what/"

"Evangeline," Nora says exasperated with her stubborn friend, "Tell John that you’re falling. Will you be bold and say it first or try and wait him out?"

Van’s gaze took in both of them and held them as she reached for her bowl of ice cream, sprinkled fruit on top and tucked a Bailey’s laced truffle inside the dish. Leaning back she slowly licked the spoon and said nothing. Swinging her legs over the arm of her chair Evangeline smiled softly recalling to herself how John so deliciously tempted her not to work.

John’s world was turning into a nightmare. He envisioned a hospital vigil, families to notify, never-ending paper work, an Internal Affairs investigation, and a motive to uncover. The hostage crisis had suddenly inverted on them just as everyone had a relaxed a little thinking the worst might be over and rationality and calmness was settling over the scene. How did it all go south and always so quickly with a spray down of bullets? John, SWAT and the cops on the scene returned fire and John thought regretfully that it would be the next day or longer before he could hold Evangeline again. And his head was telegraphing the pain he felt as much more than a crime scene headache.

Van flipped on her TV and turned to put in the DVD when they caught the end of the news bulletin on a hostage situation gone all wrong. The newscaster reported gunfire with multiple injuries but couldn’t confirm if it was police, hostages or the criminals that went down. With one hand stopped in mid-air Van looked at Blair and Nora, then they all reached for their phones.

back | next