The Rest Is Silence by musingonsoaps

Chapter 12

Our House for the Holidays

 

Christmas Eve Day

Standing in their finished bedroom surveying the grounds through the windows John grudgingly admits that Cris Vega had produced a wonderful series of art pieces that gave added dimension to the property and pushed Vegaís notoriety up several notches in the art world. The site specific works Evangeline had commissioned where startling, unexpected surprises dotted throughout the landscape. The mural of Van in Johnís study was breathtaking; Cris had captured and amplified her wandererís soul in the depths of her eyes as Van watched over him in a variety of poses that took two entire walls of the space. Although she was fully clothed in every depiction John felt a deeply personal intimacy emitting from the painted poses and half-expected those not quite portraits to come to life and embrace him.

 

Vega had been too smug as he showed John the room that first time and John had noticed during the weeks Cris worked on the mural room Natalie growing more and more subdued and looking very lost each time he saw her at the diner or the Palace. John was very familiar with the longing looks Cris sent Vanís way when he thought no one would catch him. Many men and more than a few women wanted to be in Johnís place but there wasnít a shred of hope for them. Still the artist had somehow gotten Evangeline to put on view her feelings for John, subtle to be sure but it was there for any half-aware and discerning eye to see and John was overwhelmed that she would allow Cristian to see this aspect of her and to place it in Johnís view every day.

 

It felt like forever since she first showed John the house had it really only been September? Now every bit of their home, carriage house, barn and grounds were done to Evangelineís exacting specifications. Months ago he had stopped thinking of the money she was spending and her determination to celebrate Christmas in their new home. He quickly covered his astonishment to find out that she really loved the Christmas season for all the little touches, not the presents. She loved the carols and the smell of freshly cut trees; she embraced everyoneís good cheer and sent it back in waves of happiness. Van wasnít just cheery she was done right sweet and remarkably good natured about everything even the construction delays that threatened to ruin the possibility of a new home for the holidays.

 

In November when she told him that they were hosting a Christmas Eve party for familyóhers and his! friends and his co-workers he nearly took off his finger along with the ham and turkey he was slicing for a mid-day post-Thanksgiving snack. He was glad in her happiness but underneath deeply worried that this was the beginning of the end of them. She was setting a stage of perfection for him to remember her by and then she would be on her way and out of his reach for 2006.

"Hey sweetie, why so glum?" Evangeline gave him a quick hug and rubbed her cold face against his for warmth "Holiday blues?" sitting on the window seat she took off her damp socks, pulled off her belt and tugged the bottom of her turtleneck out of her jeans.

 

"No, just thinking do we have everything for the party? All the stores will be closed in a couple of hours so anything not in hand weíre out of luck. And the weather, Iím hoping everyone can get here even if they canít get back out."

 

"No worries, my familyís plane has landed and I have a car at the airport picking them up now; your momís already here, sheís catching up with Shannon before Michael picks them up and brings them out. Everyone knows itís a four-wheel drive night if they come out here. And if it snows and snows we do have room for everyone to sleep over, maybe not in total comfort and style but warm and dry with plenty to eat and drink."

 

Standing up she brushed her fingers through his hair pushing it from his forehead,

"So what else is bothering you? Work? Whatever the crime, I didnít do it!" she said laughing lightly as she moved away from him expecting him to join in. "Oh, oh you DO suspect me of doing a job donít you?"

 

"Of course I donít, Iím just curious about well, this new found closeness between you and the Vega kid."

 

"Heís really not a kid you know that, right?"

 

"Donít dodge the question, please. You trust him a lot to let him in enough to put your emotions on public view. Lately, every time I see you two its hug, hug, kiss, kiss hello and goodbye. I donít let my own brother get that familiar with you explain to me why Iím putting up with it from Cris when youíre the one who told me to get over my guilty conscience where he and his wife are concerned."

 

"First of all as private as we both are Iím guessing only Michael, Eve and maybe Shannon, Bo and Antonio will ever see those paintings. In order to get the feel and effect I wanted for you when youíre in your office Cris had to get to know me somewhat. And I like him. Or more to the point I understand him and he understands me, we were both victims of successful kidnappings and we made it on through to the other side and back home. The lucky ones."

 

"So youíve bonded?"

 

"So we understand one another. He understands that I donít have to guess at what heís been through, I know it inside and out and Iím not judging him or the choices made in order to stay alive. But I want to keep Cris close and make sure heís not a threat to you."

"What kind of threat?"

 

"John, whether you understand it or not he was conditioned to kill Antonio. Cris says heís broken the conditioning and maybe he has. I just want to figure out as much of the back story of who might have pointed him at Antonio and why as possible. Try and head off any other triggers that might be buried deeper than Cris or his shrink can find."

 

"You think Iím a target?"

 

"I think I wonít relax until I have a better grasp of all the players standing in the shadows of what went down in Vegas. What happened in Vegas isnít staying there so I just want some answers. Iím not doing anything overly illegal to get those answers so donít worry."

 

"I wasnít worried or even thinking in that direction until now. Why donít you tell me what you know?"

 

"I donít KNOW anything, Iím feeling my way, guessing and jumping to conclusions that I canít proveÖyet. Until I can, or at least have clearer information why donít we just get on with welcoming in the holidays and 2006 in our new home?"

 

"Iím the one with badge, federal resources and snitches in this family."

 

"Iím the one with the not-strictly-legal-but-very-reliable-because-theyíre-afraid-to-die connections. Itís our first Christmas in our home are we really going to argue and have your mother and my family walk in on us in the middle of a showdown?"

 

"No, no arguing but I want to be kept up-to-date about what you know the second you know it!"

 

"Yes sir! Agent McBain, sir! Now, Iím a bit frostyómore from the cold outside then this little chat so care to share a steam with me and warm me up?"

 

"Well just how cold are you?"

 

"Frigid."

 

Laughing John scoops her up in his arms and over her protests tosses Van over his shoulder, "Youíve never been frigid a day in your life, woman."

Emerging from the steam room John turns his attention to the towel wrapped around Evangeline glances at the clock and realizes the afternoon has gotten away from them, again. "Damn, I was going to give you a very firm back rub but weíre out of time." He grins as Van presses her damp body against his and wraps her arms around his neck presenting hers for his kiss. "No baby, really we canít do this and be up and ready to receive not just company but your family. I need to make a good impression."

 

"Youíve already made an excellent impression on me. As for my family they like you already, the fact that there even IS a you in my life has made them very happy and soon theyíll love you, just like I do." Dropping her arms she moves away from him toward the hallway leading to their closet to figure out what to wear. Pretending not to notice that Johnís frozen in place she snaps her towel at him, "Come on, get moving. Youíre the one claiming weíre all out of time."

 

"Uh, yeah and how formal do I have to dress?" he asks while his heart and mind repeat her words and he begins to grin widely with this off-hand admission of love from her. She loves me! She loves me? Maybe she doesnít realize what she just said or implied about her feelings? No, Evangelineís words are always thought out and deliberate, she knows and sheís very aware of the impact on me.

 

"Okay, I canít just let it slide do you know that was awfully damn close to saying ĎI love youí? I mean, I know you know. Is that what you really feel?"

Standing in the walk-in closet her response is muffled "Jeez, I find the house of your dreams; I decorate it so itís all about you and us and you doubt my very honorable intentions? What? You want a marriage proposal too?"

 

"Would you marry me?"

 

"Is that a proposal or just a random question?"

 

"Evangeline!!!"

 

"Because you know I come from a very traditional family and if a manís proposing he needs to drop to his knees, and in lieu of asking my father he needs to ask my oldest male relative. What kind of a woman do you think I am?"

 

"I know the woman you are and you never stop amazing me and making sure I never take what I know about you for granted." Taking her hand John pulls her out of the closet and slowly starts to drop to one knee, "EvangelineÖ" but she looks past him turning toward the muffled sound of car doors slamming, laughter and happy shouts.

"Theyíre here and weíre far from dressed, get up and get moving McBain." avoiding his eyes she steps back in the closet and rapidly chooses a dressy daytime outfit.

 

Immersing herself in introducing her family to John and his family Evangeline manages to ensure that she isnít alone with John for more than a few seconds at a time as they take everyone on a tour of their home. Leaving their family members to settle into their rooms Evangelineís mind races to keep John off the topic of marriage as he gently but firmly steers her in the direction of their bedroom.

 

"I really need to check in with the caterers and make sure they have everything they need."

 

"I already spoke to them, theyíre fine."

 

"Well,"

 

"Ms. Williamson? Thereís a Cris Vega waiting for you in the living room" the head of the wait staff says intercepting John and Evangeline.

 

"Iíll be right there. John, I have to go."

 

"Why is he here so early?"

 

"Iíll find out." she says slipping from his fingers and heading down the back stairs for the living room. Before John can follow Evangelineís grandfathers come around the corner and smiling beckon to John to join them. Pursing his mouth thoughtfully John takes the opportunity to speak to her oldest male relatives.

 

Entering the living room Van draws a deep breath somewhat unnerved by this cat and mouse game sheís started with John. She hadnít meant to come so close to saying the L word, but she knew it wouldnít be truthful to try and put a disclaimer on it now. Shaking her head in disgust Van wonders how they had jumped so fast from love to a teasing (she thought they were teasing!) marriage proposal. She needed to divert John from her haphazard raising of his hopes and she hoped Cris would provide her a way out without hurting the man she cared for.

 

"Youíre very early did you remember something more?"

 

"Yeah, I thought about what you said and Iím thinking I know that voice that kept taunting me and programming me. I swear I heard it before but I canít remember where. What I do know now that Iíve listened to those tapes you gave me of Ticoóit wasnít his voice and it wasnít that Flynn or Walker Laurence guy that Todd Manning pretended to be either. But the voice is familiar somehow."

 

"Okay, Cris, this is good actually it dovetails with some stuff I have my people looking into. We know Tico wanted you and Antonio dead but Flynn supposedly sold you. What if Flynn was paid to DELIVER you to someone else that has a grudge?"

 

"Aside from RJ no one from my Llanview days has a grudge against me."

 

"That you know of."

 

Cris silently paces around the living room while Van perches on the arm of the sofa, "Maybe itís not about you so much as it is about someone youíre close to. The Buchananís certainly have enemies, so do the Lordís; youíre related to both through marriage. Antonio was a cop and a gang leader before that. People can have long memories and really hang on to revenge."

 

"Iíll talk to Antonio and maybe Kevin. Thanks for talking this through with me and you have a Merry Christmas. Weíre not coming to the party later, Iím sure youíll have more fun with just the people you care about here."

 

 

Getting up Evangeline walks to his side "I care about you Cris I invited you because I like you and of course, you did a phenomenal job with the art commission."

 

Putting his arm around her waist they head for the front door "Thanks but I think everyone will have a happier holiday this way. Iím taking Natalie on a holiday trip. See you in 2006 Evangeline." Kissing her on the cheek Cris heads out into the cold. Lingering at the door until she sees his headlights come on Van sighs and shuts the door against the chill. "Like I said you allow Cris liberties that youíve never granted to any other male friend. I really donít like it."

 

Leaning her head against the closed door Evangeline sighs well, this will get us off the marriage track she muses to herself as she turns to face him. "I want you to swear you wonít go all federal on me with what Iím about to say. Actually, this can wait until after the holidays Mr. G-man." Folding his arms John just stares at her and waits, "Okay, I think I know who ordered Flynn to kidnap Cris instead of killing him and who set up the whole brainwashing and kill Antonio and Tico deal."

 

"Cris killed Tico?"

 

"I didnít actually say that."

 

"Itís implied in your statement."

 

"Iím not under arrest so Iím not making a statement, John" she says sharply.

"No youíre not, Iím sorry. Iím worried about you getting mixed up in whatever this is. Who do you think is behind all of this?"

 

"Are you familiar with the name Carlo Hesser? Yes, I see that you are. So am I. But we have company and more coming so this will have to wait."