Chapter 5

Several months had passed since lunch with Nora and RJ and Evangeline felt she had a good grasp on Johnís Llanview days and nights without her. Van was comfortable that she had a real feel for the people of Llanview and the dynamics among themówho had relationships with whom, the ones that were at war overtly and covertly, the secret and obvious longings had all been duly noted and lodged in the back of her mind for future reference. She admitted to John that she was still deeply confused by the whole mess of Viki Davidsonís twin girls separated at birth but with different daddies. However, considering both girls had married men in haste theyíd known for minutes, Van figured they were twins in everyway after all. Nora sleeping with another man to give Bo a baby also left her shaking her headóNora seemed so smart and rational!

Evangeline had easily found her place as a quietly influential force in town when possible; and a calmly demanding presence when needed. Evangeline had pulled out her clout and made it clear to Llanview Hospitalís board of directors that Michael McBain had to come off suspension and had been photographed in the papers with him several times to alleviate the fears of patients about his involvement in Tico Santiís murder. Now they all wanted to pump him for information on his famous in-law and they were comfortable that no one associated with Evangeline could possibly be a killer. She had felt an instant kinship and connection with most of the Cramer women and made Dorian her personal physician, forcing the hospitalís board to revisit her firing and reinstating Dorian as Chief of Staff. Evangeline adored Asa and his cowboy-up ways and they had become fast friends. He reminded Van of her great-grandfather, who had taught her to ride and love horses. She had been his little cowgirl and Van had adored him as much as her own dad and he left his Colorado horse ranch to her. The Buchananís stable of horses were at her disposalóshe preferred the privacy of riding there rather than the more public Country Club; and Nigel was a valued voice of reason and observation for her on Llanviewís residents.

Van knew John was a trifle disturbed that she was fond of and friendly with the bad boys in town: RJ, Todd, David and Rex. "Considering your history with Jason and Sonny and the delight you take in RJ and David why are you with me? Iím Mr. Law and Order even without my job, in comparison to them." John asked one evening frowning as David Vickers left their table at the Country Club.

"Oh bad boys take such work they just dim a womanís bloom over time. Iím much more intrigued by the deeply damaged man who was just waiting for me to love him and accept his love in return. The bad boys swinging make me laugh but I forget about them the moment theyíre out of my sight, I can never get you off my mind or out of my heart." Vanís eyes had turned to the deepest of chocolate browns as she spoke and John was lost in them and unable to remember a time when he didnít want and need her; when he wasnít stunned that she loved him too

Christmas came and went and Evangeline was pleased that John was less hesitant about using her wealth to indulge the people he loved with astonishingly thoughtful presents. New Yearís Eve was just for them standing on the shore of the Outer Banks on a night filled with stars, drinking champagne, laughing, kissing and shivering in the chill and from the need to indulge their physical desire; barely making it onto the screened-in porch before John had her out of her evening dress and enveloped in his heat.

Van had surprised John and Michael with tickets to the Super Bowl for them and any and all of their friends that they cared to bring along to cheer on the Eagles; everyone had enjoyed the ride on Evangelineís jet and they taken up two floors of the hotel. They had lots of face time with all the players with VIP entry to all the events and parties where it quickly became clear that all the players and celebrities in abundance were awed to be in Evangelineís presence. Michael, Riley, Daniel and Bo had fallen on the floor with shock when John admitted Van had offered to buy him the Eagles as a wedding gift and heíd declined. "Yeah,"Van had cracked "and they were affordable back then. Now Iíd have to have a serious come to Jesus meeting with my accountant before she would like me spend money like that!"

Van had beaten John into submission with a pillow when she realized he really had forgotten about Valentineís Dayóhe wasnít joking. He was so abashed and apologetic that she had laughed and told him he showed his love for her 365/24/7 and she really wasnít all that attached to celebrating on a single day. Then she sang to him half the night and he made love to her until the dawn officially proclaimed February 14 had ended several hours ago. It was a Valentineís Day to remember; their first shared in their new, permanent home.

Evangeline made an increasingly rare Hollywood appearance at the Oscars, her arrival on Johnís arm ending one set of rumors about why sheíd put her career on hold and dropped from sight and fueling a new whirl of gossip. While John had laughed at the tabloids suggestion that Van was the cause of the split between Brad and Jen; he was incensed when another had intimated that she was having an emotional breakdown after an abortion. They shrugged it off and went on.

Most importantly Evangeline and John found their marriage was a strong and happy one filled with truth, palpable passion and commitment to each other first and foremost. Day-to-day living together was a joy with only minor points of testy negotiation. They were both more than ready for their new-found domestic routine and reveled in saying "oh, I have to check with my wife/husband." The serene certainty between them about their relationship had freed them to become more open and available to their families and the few people they counted as friends. John and Michaelís relationship was closer everyday and they found a new common ground in the puzzling joy of their both being in happy relationships. Marcieís endless chatter sometimes wore on Johnís nerves but he was glad to put up with it when he watched the way Michael glowed around her. So far, Boís dating Eve hadnít caused any awkward moments at work. Bo clearly cared about Johnís mom and knew how to separate out his work and personal life. Evangeline and Alexis were in near constant contact by phone and e-mail, making up for lost sisterly time. Evangelineís heart went out to Nikolas and the constant Cassadine burdens he lived with; but she was wary and careful with Stefan, never truly sure of his ultimate intentions. The shadow of Helenaís threats had receded to the back of Evangelineís mind, mostly because she knew Johnís vigilance never took a holiday.

Van was there as a sounding board for John when he struggled with his belief that the returned Cristian Vega was truly not the same man they all thought had died. The lifting of Johnís guilt over Crisís death had been all too brief when he suspected Natalie was in for more pain. Evangeline was quietly aware of the serious crush Natalie had on John but certainly didnít lose sleep over it; she knew she held Johnís heart and soul. Sheíd helped get a DNA sample for Johnís use in clearing up the mystery. Still she wasnít convinced after all the evidence was in that the man truly was a faux-Cris and expressed her concerns to John. "John, I know something about being kidnapped and gone for a long, long time and about people trying to systematically make you over into something no one who ever knew you would recognize. Itís not easy even with daily brainwashing. I donít know I canít believe this guy isnít the real deal, although twisted into a new form inside thanks to torture and who knows what else."

John had sighed at his wife correct assessment of the situation, but heíd given Vega his word and didnít feel he could share his burden with Evangeline, Bo or anyone else. On the other hand he knew better than to flat out lie to her, "Honey, the man insists heís an imposter so why drag him through anymore? And Natalie and Carlotta for that matter. How much more can either of them take? Plus would it be worse having Cris yanked away yet again because this guyís a fake or to find out their Cris has become a murder ,including trying to kill Antonio?"

"True, but Cristian or not this guy still needs more than a prison cell. He needs to be in a mental facility and deprogrammed. Who knows what hidden triggers are buried in his psyche and what will set him off? He needs serious psychiatric help and I donít believe Statesville Prison is equipped to give him whatís needed." Van watched John digest her words and look inside of himself, deep in thought.

Mid-March found Evangeline and John lying exhausted and spent by the pool; Johnís head was on her abdomen as he felt her breathing returning to a normal rhythm after their fiery lovemaking. "My God! Youíre too good at this, McBain. It ought to be illegal or packaged and sold so everyone knows how good it feels to indulge every erotic desire so completely."

"Hmm, youíd really share me and my sexual secrets?"

"I said packaged, maybe I could get the patent and clone you or at least parts of you," Van said laughing wickedly. "But no, in no lifetime or under any circumstances will I ever share you, not any part of you. Youíre mine, all mine."

"All yours? I like the sound of that, the idea of it, the reality. Iím almost afraid that this canít possibly last." John rose up to look at her and was reassured by the certainty and love in her eyes. He was about to lay fully on top of her when the phone rang.

"Oh, John, I hope theyíre not calling you into work. Iíve just fantasized more ways we can please each other," Van cooed as John moved away from her warm flesh and reached for the phone.

"Hold that thought, but the callís for you," He said.

Evangeline raised an eyebrow as she answered "Hello? Reiko? Girl, I gotta tell you, this is NOT the time." As Van listened for a moment John saw a slight frown touch her forehead, "Really? Really? Well, everyoneís just going to have to deal with me basically being in a form of early retirement for a very long time to come. Nope, not interested in quirky roles, small or large, in edgy films, Iím not on my standard year or two work break, but book me for the future. Iím living my life, for me for what I want and need and Iím not putting a time table on it. Iím happy not living a long-distance personal life anymore. Now, I pay you and the rest of the team very well indeed to keep things running smoothly for me; and Iím paying very close attention to the details of all of my companies. Iíll be at any of those meetings that Iím really needed for a face-to-face but donít tell people Iíll be back to work in a few years full tilt because I wonít be."

Van smiled at John and the aware and aroused look in his eyes as he watched her every supple move when she rolled onto her back again and stretched one arm out from her side. He loved how comfortable she was in her skin in every way possible. "What will I do with myself? Reiko, pay attention now Iím somebodyís wife, Iím going to be good to me, for me and Iím all about John and our families. Iím sure the limelight will anoint someone to be the new IT girl any second now. She can have it and I hope enjoy it as I have, but I donít need it the way I used to. Now, Iíll call you later in the week after I finish going over the new strategic positioning papers for my various holdings and we can set a time to meet with everyone and hash out everything about the way it is and is going to continue to be. Be happy for me, bye."

"Problems?"

"Not really, everyoneís just jittery trying to get used to the new world order where work isnít my endgame anymore. You are, John, a home with you, a life with you and not just a life with you in it the way it was before."

John pulled her into him entangling his arms and legs with hers, "Now, where were we?" he asked brushing his lips across her cheek and blowing air on her making her laugh and squirm against him. His mouth found hers just as the phone rang again, "Un-damn-believable! Are we cursed?"

Evangeline reached for the phone and was surprised to hear Dorianís voice, "Evangeline, hello, I got your test results from your check-up and we need to talk."

"Oh, God, itís never good when your doctor says that!" Van exclaimed, "Let me get some paper and a pen, do you have a date and time in mind?"

"I thought Iíd come to your place as soon as possible. Iíd say come to the hospital but really, Iím not entirely sure that all the protocols I put in place to keep any hospital personnel from knowing test results belong to you are as secure as Iím sure youíd want them. I havenít had a chance to test it out and see if anything is leaked to the media. And Evangeline, itís nothing bad but I do think you and John want this information right away."

"Nothing bad? Well, youíre scaring me just the sameódid you uncover a way to cut out my crazy Cassadine gene pool? Iíd cheerfully go under the knife for that. Dorian, canít you tell me something? Ok, John and I both here, come over right now."

"Whatís wrong? When did you go to the hospital and why didnít you tell me?"

"It was a routine check-up, at least in my mind. Dorian now has all my records and she noted I was past due with the usual mammogram and stuff so I figured do a full-blown check-up. If she noticed something else weird going on she didnít give me a sign. But, John, Dorian said I shouldnít get wound up because itís not serious. Sheís on her over so we should get dressed. I Ďd say the moodís been well spoiled now."

When the doorman called and announced Dorian had arrived John noted that Evangeline was trembling as she went to the door, it was well-hidden but he knew her body so well he could detect the little tremors taking hold of her shoulders and rippling through her back. He came up behind her and began rubbing her body from her neck down her back to calm her and himself.

"Dorian, can I get you something?"

"Well, Iím off duty so a glass of wine would be nice. Evangeline, I told you itís not bad news stop looking as though I ran over your puppy. Itís good news and I think you and John will think so too. If you donít you and John will have big decisions to make."

"Well, what is it? Tell us." John said slightly exasperated and wanting to ease Vanís fears.

"Among the routine tests I ran on you Evangeline I did a pregnancy test and it came back positive. Youíre about five weeks along. I didnít want this kind of personal information to leak out thatís why I wanted to tell you outside of the hospital. Of course, once you set up your pre-natal visits itíll be tough to impossible to keep it a secret for very long."

Evangeline had been about to sit down next to John and she completely missed the couch. If John hadnít caught her and pulled her onto his lap she wouldíve been staring at Dorian open-mouthed from the floor instead of from the tight circle of Johnís arms. Without thinking he said "Careful, donít rattle mini-me or mini-you." Then he looked at her in astonishment as they both tried to fully register this unexpected news.

"Nooo, I donít think so Dorian, Iím a bit rundown but Iím not having a baby. Iíd know, wouldnít I? Five weeks would make itÖ"

Van and John looked at each other and collectively their minds went back to Valentineís Day, "So, John you had a present for me after all the most life-changing gift of all!"

"Iíll leave you two to sort out the how and when it happened. I tested for pregnancy because, well, you two generate shall we say serious heat? I figured since birth control is not fool proof I should just check and see. Evangeline, hereís a list of doctors with some basic information about each unless you have someone youíd like to use. We can discuss details later. Suffice to say start watching what you eat and drink right now and donít delay getting that appointment. Here are some brochures for you and John t read together and feel free to call me with questions. Congratulations you two! Or should I say Ďthree?í Donít move I can find my way out."

Evangeline gladly followed Dorianís instructions and didnít move from Johnís arms until she heard the elevator arrive and then the doors close again. She slid off Johnís lap, stood, sat down, and then stood up again. She looked at John "The one time a woman really NEEDS a drink and these days itís totally forbidden! John, I didnít plan this! We havenít discussed kids, certainly not this soon; actually weíve NEVER discussed children. How did that subject get by us?"

John noted the increasingly tone of near hysteria in Vanís voice cutting through his own questions, fears and wonderment. "Well, time we discussed children and no holding back on what weíre thinking and feeling because the realityís on us." He was quiet for several minutes afraid to voice the words but knew they had to be spoken aloud, "Evangeline," Johnís voice was barely audible "do we need to discuss our options? All of our options about this baby?"

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