Chapter 8

 

So little time had really passed but it felt like different life and another world to Evangeline and John. Less than two weeks ago Evangeline had seen John kissing Natalie at the police station with Natalie wearing Johnís jacket, "Thatís clear," Van thought "they really are sleeping together." but there wasnít much energy for Nat to boast to anyone about basking in the bliss. Even as an outsider Buchanan Natalie was forced to pay attention to the freefall downward spiral of Buchanan Enterprises, it was consuming the attention and time of everyone to the point that no one but her was aware of the irony when Asa insisted to Kevin that he retain Vanís legal services to help their legal department fight the takeover onslaught. The deal with Cano was supposed to have staunched the red ink all over their profit and loss statements. Somehow, the triumph had been fleeting and the infusion of capital a ruse or not enough, Van wasnít sure which but she told Kevin and Duke as they lunched at the Palace she definitely wasnít interested in getting entangled with the Buchananís and their woes.

Out of the corner of her eye Van saw John and Natalie enter the restaurant and head to their table, she was pleased that she only groaned inwardly, and noted that John was trailing along reluctantly and knew her face showed no awareness of their presence or the impact on her. As she turned Kevin and his son down for the third time during their meal Asa arrived, "Hell woman, we need you to bring a fresh eye and see what our lawyers arenít catching about this takeover. You tell me what you need to come over to our teamómoney, I can pay you; a vacation home or two in the most exclusive havens in the world? Yours. That cop to dismiss my little niece like she doesnít exist? I can make it happen. Tell me what you want and ole Asaíll make it so."

Evangeline let out a full-bodied laugh sure that Asa was well aware that Natalie and John heard him. His legacy was at stake and he didnít really give a ratís ass about Natalie. She was crafty and somewhat feisty but didnít come across as quick, intelligent and career-oriented as Asa liked Buchanan women to be; those born into the family and those that married into it. And she didnít have her twinís innate elegance and charmónot the little princess or cowgirl that he felt any strong connection to; she couldnít possibly be Clintís daughter. When this takeover was stopped heíd really look into that more aggressively.

"Thank you Asa, but I really donít see how I can help you. Besides, my work plate is utterly full and Iím expecting company thatíll take up any spare time I may have. Why do you really want me working on this deal?"

"Probably because heís finally learned Iím lead counsel on the takeover and he knows we have history." A coolly smooth male voice stated, "Hoping perhaps, that for old times sake Iíll spill all the details of the strategy of the run on BE."

Everyone looked around in surprise then Kevin regained his speech, "Justus Ward, isnít it? With you leading the charge, Justus, I gather ELQ and the Quatermaines are expanding into Pennsylvania. Why? Donít they have enough financial problems? Your family no longer has the assets to take BE, unless someone else is funding this endgame. I heard Skye went from our family to your family and has gotten into to bed, financially, with that South American criminal, Alcazar."

"Ah Kevin, you have no idea of the resources of the Quartermaines. Trust me; we have more than enough assets and skills to make BE a minor subsidiary of ELQ and we donít need dirty money or help to do it. Hello Evangeline, I hope you havenít gone to work for the losing team."

"Justus, itís good to see you. Iím surprised, shocked really, but great to see you. I guess thereís no need to ask what brings you here."

"Actually, Iím wrapping up my brief visit for now but I got a call from a mutual friend who asked me to pass along a message to you." As he speaks Justus leans down closer to her, near enough to kiss and Van pulls back unsure of his intention but aware that all the restaurantís diners and staff seemed to have turned to focus in their direction. Then she understood why.

"Hold up Justus, Iíll tell Evangeline what she needs to know. Hello love, I apologize for my delay." Jax says as he bends down over her brushing her cheek with a kiss, and running his fingers possessively through her hair. His eyes are bluer than the sky, so different and brighter than Johnís, no shadows, no demons lurking. "Iím glad to hear youíre not taking on any more clients. I have major travel plans in mind for us and with my jet at your disposal to meet your court obligations weíll be on the go and away a lot."

"Jax! Youíre here," Van says laughing as she stands and jumps into his arms aware of the astonishment of all the Buchanans and how Johnís eyes are suddenly hooded and downcast to cover his pain. Yes, seeing Jax was already having a wonderful affect on her world view.

"Baby, you say jump up and get here, I say how high and fast would you like that? Come on, I see youíve had lunch, lets have dessert at that fabulous dessert bar we like so much." He says while setting her feet back on the ground and wrapping an arm around her neck and keeping her body close to his.

"Jax I donít think I have time to jet to Paris, eat, shopóyou know Iíd have to shop, and get back in time to truly be prepared for tomorrowís custody hearing. Raincheck?"

"Okay, never let it be said I messed with your hot shot career. Weíll go someplace close as soon as youíre out of court tomorrow. I know a dessert bar thatís almost as good as Paris in Malibu. I wonít take a Ďnoí on this one. I think thereís a boutique or three that we can hit so you can feed your clothing jones. And tell me what couture houses you like to hit in Europe and Iíll have them send you samples and designs to look over."

Turning to the assembled faces Jaxís smile widens, "Asa, Iíd recognize you anywhere and of course, the disgraced ex-politico and the heir apparent, Kevin and Duke. I understand the next generations arenít as equipped in holding onto the family business. Perhaps itís time to let the Buchanan men rest and turn things over to the women." Glancing in Natalie and Johnís direction he turns toward them, "Wrong hair color to be Jessica so you must be the twin no one knew about," turning back to Asa Jax grins "donít you hate it when those long-lost, unasked for relatives make their presence known and bring nothing worthwhile to the bloodlines? And in case you havenít connected the dots yet, Iím taking BE and since Iím on the ELQ board they will have some beneficial fallout from my acquisition. I plan to spend quite a bit of time in Llanview now and that companyís begging for a fresh infusion of focus and creativity. Itíll make a nice addition to my portfolio. Perhaps Iíll give it to Evangeline to play with."

Taking her arm Jax leads Van away from the table as Justus looks over everyone, sizes them up for future reference and waves his hand in causal dismissal and goodbye. He files away the impact Jax and Evangeline has on the guy the Buchanan girlís clinging to; another ordinary joe who lost his heart to the elusive beauty, but clearly not in her league. Turning and leaving Justus wonders to himself just how close Van and Jax are and in what way. Justus decides he certainly wouldnít mind seeing if they finally have their timing right to turn their law school rivalry into something more significant and substantial.

Arriving at Jaxís suite at the Bayberry Inn Evangeline squeals in delight at the dessert set-up he has waiting for her on the balcony, "I canít believe the sugar rush youíre supplying me with, I wonít have to sleep until I get out of court."

"Thatís the plan, keep you feed, focused and unbeatable tomorrow."

"Okay, when did you order this? Weíve been together since we left Asa and everyone at the Palace."

"I have a significant network ofÖ.informants. Donít cross-examine me, dig in. All the ice creamís hand made with unusual flavor combinations youíll enjoy." Tossing his jacket on a chair and taking off his tie he beams his mega-watt smile at her, "So, did I do good back there? I noticed the ex was there with the Buchanan girl. Iíve never seen an unhappier man whoís supposed to be in the throes of an undeniable attraction."

"Yeah, yeah, he loves me so much he had to let me go," she sighs, "he doesnít feel worthy. Iíve heard all that spinning before. Iím sick of it."

"Doesnít change the truth of it; heís heart sick with love for you no matter how weird a way he has of showing it. In the 10 minutes spent in his presence I scoped out that much at least. Stop being so hard on yourself, you didnít do anything wrong. If heís not ready to step up, let him step. Heíll be back. They always come back. Heís just taking a major risk that youíll let him in again. Will you?"

"I donít know I try not to even imagine the possibility. I donít know what Iíd do since I donít even know what Iím doing right now. Why did I call you again? And I keep hearing that your love life ainít grand, Iím sorry."

"Donít be, I ignored my motherís good advice and all the warning signs that I was stepping into another Brenda zone: different name and circumstances, so many of the same issues, so Iím a free man again. My only concern is for my child."

"The surrogacy, youíre prepared to be a single dad? Even with lots of money and help itís work and a big change in your life and lifestyle, playboy Jax." Van said smiling to take the sting out her words, "I didnít know you were ready to commit to parenthood."

"I didnít know either until Courtney and I started talking about it, then I just knew I wouldnít feel complete without a child. Yes, I know, then why marry someone who canít have children? Why marry a girl not yet over her ex? Why marry when we had nothing in common except loneliness and a desire to be part of a couple? Iíve run through those questions a whole lot lately. I just wanted to be in something, with someone, I settled what more can I say? And thatís why I have real insight into that McBain, he has resignation written into his backbone judging by the way he endured that girl hanging all over him, didnít even want to be seen with her."

"Well, the Palace is where we would go together so he probably knew chances were high heíd run into me. Your divorce is pending?"

"Forget divorce, Iím having this marriage annulled."

"Yikes Jax, like she never existed in your universe at all?"

"Thatís right, a horrible nightmare Iíve awakened from and donít need to look back on. The down side is itíll make gaining primary custody of my child that much more difficult. The mother believes in a two-parent household, as if I donít. But I believe itís more important to have a child in a happy environment, no matter how many or few adults are in the home."

 

Rubbing his eyes and running his fingers through his hair Jax shrugs, "Itís an awful mess, no matter what happens in the end. Iím hoping it doesnít turn into a court battle, but right now Iím not betting that it wonít."

"I canít do another custody battle Jax, I can suggest some lawyers though."

"Oh no, Iím not going to ask you to represent me, for now Justus is handling things and if I need to Iíll bring on lawyers that just deal with this type of case. No, Iím here for YOU Evangeline, and Iím glad to be here."

"And to take BE."

"An extra bennie since Iím in town anyway. This takeover was going to happen whether or not you called me here, it just makes it that much sweeter to be here with you. Now, weíre friends, pals, buds right?"

"Yes, right." She answers cautiously.

"And when and if youíre ever ready we can also go back to being fuck buddies; but only if you want to, take your time no pressure. But remember that I do know what you want and need, in bed and out."

"Iím not trying to make John jealous, Jax."

"I know, you want him to regret, thatís all. And you want to claim your life for yourself." Lightly kissing her forehead, he looks in her eyes, "Just bring those memories back to the forefront of your mind, and remember itís only if you want me, want to be with me in an intimate way again. And even if we donít make love, everyoneís going to believe weíre having a hot affair just by the way I look at you, touch you. Every woman will want to be you; every man will know Iíll never allow him the opportunity to be me. Smile babe, good times ahead, I promise you. Lady Jane told me not to let you get away again, and from now on my mother rules my love life."