Chapter 6

Soft chiming caused Evangeline to pause mid-stride to pullout her cell phone as she walked away from the gym. A glance at the incoming number gave her a reason to smile; a smile that climbed past her mouth went to her eyes and changed her purposeful stride to a slower, sexy strut.

“McBain, hello.” Van said into the phone her voice dropping several octaves without thought or prompting. On the other end John felt himself hardening just from her voice, “Damn, it’s just insane what you do to me and you’re not even close enough to see, let alone touch.”

“I can get to wherever ‘there’ is and you can touch, touch until you’re satisfied and so am I, I’d welcome that.” she said letting out a laugh that was sensual and full-bodied forcing John to wonder how he’d ever be able to stand up and leave Carlotta’s diner discreetly with his body in an obvious state of arousal.

“Where are you? I’d like to show you a house.”

“A house or a bed? You were serious about house-hunting?”

“Yes, of course.” he replied slightly puzzled, “What else have we been talking about these last few weeks? Closet space, that means time to move. If you meet me at the diner we can drive out together.”

“Whew! You can go to wrap speed and beyond when it suits you, huh?” Laughing warmly but with small note of reluctance, “We don’t need a house, we just need to move. Actually, I just need to find a place to stash my stuff. Do you really want to move?”

“I say we look, if we find a place we love we can enter the buying phase and see how it shakes out.” John listened intently to Van’s tone and noted her mild lack of enthusiasm and wondered, was she really happier than he thought in their cramped quarters or was something else going on in her head? “A larger place might give you more room to avoid the feelings you don’t want to have and the questions you refuse to answer; you can physically and verbally dodge me if you wish.”

Van glanced at her cell in alarm then relaxed, grateful that neither of them was inclined to embrace picture phones, “I’m not in high avoidance mode with you anymore, well, not much anyway. Just cautious through life experience, maybe by nature; give me 15 and I’m there.”

Looking up Van checked the sky wondering what the Pacific Ocean or the waters of the Mediterranean would feel like that today. Every part of her longed to be out on the water with nothing but sky and the open sea around her, totally free again. Lifting her head up more she opened her mouth to taste the air but the breeze spoke of landlocked water, contained, tamed, its flow strictly directed and overseen. Evangeline had a vivid waking dream of her and John sailing along together, laughing, happy, alone together. John wasn’t wild about the ocean although he could swim and basically liked water, but he wasn’t passionate about the sea, driven to be out on it night and day. Sighing she tucked away her wayfarer’s desire and instincts pulled out her car keys and resolutely turned towards John waiting for her and her new life.

By the time Van was standing by John’s booth the erotic impact of her voice on him had slackened and he stood to kiss her, “Are you hungry or can we get on the road?”

“Is it serious travel time to this place, if so I need coffee.”

Smiling John ordered two javas to go, “It’s not that far but when you’re on the property you feel miles away from the town. It has a name, Lion’s Heart.”

“Names generally mean vast tracts of land, an imposing house. You want to look at an estate? Why?”

“I told you closets, lots and lots of closets plus a bathroom for you and one for me along with several for guests. But bathing time happens together that’s a non-negotiable mandate.”

Her eyebrows arched at him as he continued, “We’ll need to conserve water to keep the bills down.”

Sipping her coffee as they drove up a wide lane Van leans back in her seat, slightly turns her head and watches John drive. He was one of three people she had encountered in her life who was as utterly self-contained as she was, she knew he had felt as complete and restful living in near total emotional isolation as she had. Rather as they once had, before they found each other. Before their occasional and casual weekend flings turned into an unrelenting needy hunger that wouldn’t let either rest until they’d found one another again; before they were well and truly lost in each other with all their protective layers left splintered and unmended on the bed. Now neither could go back to the controlled, seemingly indifferent people they once were; considered by all coolly efficient at their work, caring about little else. How little others knew them, understood them. Van grimaced; being alone had been so much less work. She reached for John’s hand and he laced her fingers with his as they each thought how neither one had known how lonely they had been.