Chapter 1

John McBain entered his darkened room and suppressed the urge to slam his fist into the closed door. He admitted to himself that his hopes were shattered again when he came in and didn’t catch a whiff of her perfume or nearly tripped over her luggage. Turning on the lights John glanced around in desperate hope but clearly Evangeline wasn’t there now and hadn’t been there. No scarf trailing carelessly over the arm and back of a chair, no earring by the phone taken off while she talked. John had checked his work and personal emails but no messages from Van; no voice mail from her, no text message, nothing, only silence.

John opened the first of a six pack of beer and paced every inch of space. He reminded himself there had been other times, more than a few over the years when Evangeline was completely unreachable and untraceable. His heard knew she was totally capable of taking care of herself, she’d done it almost all of her life, but Van knew he obsessed on her safety and well being so she usually sent him plenty of reassuring messages when she wouldn’t talk to him in real time so they couldn’t fight about her secrecy over where she was, what she was doing and with whom. She had been gone for nearly three months and silent for close to two. Not that he ever thought she was unfaithful; he did however, consider her dangerously reckless. That was a point they fought over many times—a sore point they couldn’t resolve, so they used lovemaking to reassure each other that no matter how the fight escalated nothing mattered in the end but their passionate love for one another.

Downing his second beer John tried to embrace his belief that he would know it if Van was no longer a part of this physical world. For the first time in a long, long time he wished he could remember how to pray, where the prayers came from, how they rose up from the soul and slipped from the mouth. He had done his stint as an altar boy so he should remember; it should be second nature for a good Irish Catholic boy—or first impulse. Life had taken his belief; his job had smothered out the lingering embers of his faith. Evangeline was his lifeline—his reason to continue to get up, his comfort capable of making a deep, relaxed sleep possible for him. He couldn’t do without her she was everything to him, his life’s blood and he was risking his job and possibly his life for her.

John had reluctantly but finally come to accept that she meant it when she told him to embrace the "don’t ask, don’t tell" view of life. That with her silence she was protecting him from compromising his professional life and his personal values, he shuddered each time he tried to puzzle out the implications of her calm statement. Damn the woman! On the sly he’d tried to do a bit of checking and it wasn’t reassuring. It seemed she didn’t exist, even on paper. The vitals he got back from her social security number didn’t ring true to the woman he knew, and it was all of one short page of non-information. The date of birth wasn’t the date they had celebrated together, nothing matched up. As far as he could tell she wasn’t in the Witness Protection Program, he didn’t think she was a player in the international drug wars or a major arms dealer but he could be very, very wrong he was so blinded by love. He was afraid if she was any of those things or worse he wouldn’t care, that he’d use his position with the FBI to protect her from all harm including being caught and prosecuted.

His beguiling, bewitching, beautiful, tough, smart, infuriating and strong Evangeline, who at her core was so very young, so wondrous and able to be awed by the natural beauty in the world. She would go silent and still at a sunset, the sound of bird call over the waves of the ocean, a stark field with an unexpected splash of colorful flowers could produce tears. She made him wake up and take note of the world around him to notice things in the world and want to share them with her. She was…elusive. So emotionally honest with him but he’d seen first-hand that she could and would lie with alarming ease to others’ when it suited her purpose and it never troubled her do so.

"Evangeline, where are you? Call me." John’s whispery voice pleaded into the stillness and silence.

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