Chapter 9

"I donít want to go home." She complains while John puts all their stuff in the car.

"Me either, its been nice having you all to myself." he said while shutting down the trunk. Walking over to her, he wraps his arms around her waist from the back.

"Iíll second that." Evangeline says, her hands going over his. Resting her head on his chest "This was an amazing weekend John." His kiss her neck, as she thinks about when he took her dancing, the way their body just moved against each other as if they dance together a million times before.

"I had a good time too." Kissing her cheek "Come onÖ we still need to see my mom before we leave."

Stopping by his mom house, she gives John and Evangeline strict order to come see her again. Michael and Marci already left a day before them. Smiling at his mom one last time, she walks out the door when Eve came and stop her. Turning her way, she give Eve a questioning smile.

"Can I have a word with you?" Eve ask, her hand still on Vanís forearm.

"Of course." Eve lead her to the living room. Sitting opposite form her, Evangeline asks, "What can I do for you?"

"Oh nothing, I just want to thank you dear."

"Thank me? Why?" She asks perplex.

"You have given Johnny a reason to live again and when I say live, I mean going out and living life to the fullest. After Caitlin died he lost himself and all he did was work and work. I never heard much from him anymore, he started drinking more than he use to andÖ he finally hit rock bottom."

"Oh my gosh?" disbelief written on her face. She had no idea John was that hard up after Caitlin died; she knew he went through difficult times but not at that extent. "I had no ideaÖ"

"John isnít one to talk about his feeling." Laughingly, she threw her head back "Neither of my sons can talk about their feelings very wellÖ they get it from their father." They share a smile.

"I canít believe itÖI didnít even realize he had a drinking problem." Shaking her head in wonderment, she has seen John drink: beer, vodka, Jack Daniel and all sorts of alcohol and he never seem to have a problem with it.

"Oh no no dear he doesnít have an alcohol problem, but I have to say I did think he did for a while, but heís okay now."

"If you donít mind me asking," with the shake of her head that she didnít mind "what happened after John hit rock bottom?" she ask wanting to know this part of John which she knew he would never speak of.

"Natalie Vega."

"Oh."

"Yes, it was right after her husband died that he hit rock bottom. He wasnít over Caitlinís death yet and then he felt guilty over that young manís death."

"They started hanging around each other a lot, whenever I called him he was with her playing pool or just shooting the breeze." Nodding her head a tinge of jealousy hit her.

"She really helped him out by being there for him. None really understood his pain and when I tried to get him to talk to me about itÖwell lets just saying he did not want to talk to his mother about his feeling either."

"Always the strong, and silent type." a small smile on Vanís face as she describe John.

"Thatís my John. He was able to talk about it with Natalie, they both really leaned on each other for support to work through their grief."

"I didnít realize Natalie did all that for him."

"I always thought they would get together so I was pleasantly shocked when I heard about you." she pats her hand a couple of time. "Donít get me wrong Natalie helped him but what you did for John is incomparable."

"And between you and me I donít think she would have been that good for him." Comfort settles over her at hearing that. Not wanting to appear overly happy to hear that, she switch back to their conversation but couldnít seem to get rid of her smile.

"Eve, if I did save John Iím glad." Smiling tenderly she clasp Eve hand between hers. "Saving John does me as much good as it does everyone else." Hugging each other, Evangeline whispers into Eve ear "No thanks needed. Iím glad John is doing better."

Hugging Evangeline tighter Eve replies "You donít know the light and spring you have put into him and for that Evangeline I shall be forever grateful. "You better go before John sends the troops."

Nodding and with one last hug she leave the house with promise to call her when they get back to Llanview.

"What was that about?" John ask after going in to say goodbye to his mother. Putting the key in the ignition, he let the car warm up before driving off.

"Just girl talk and some bonding." laying her head against the headrest she closes her eyes. "The more time I spend with her, the more I realize what a great and wonderful mom you have John."

"Thanks. Wasnít your mom great?" giving her a quick glance before switching lane.

"I guess she is, I donít really know."

"That doesnít make any sense"

"My mom and I werenít real close when I was growing up. It was always me and my dad and once he died it was to late to start anything with her."

Taking her hand in the hand he wasnít using "Its never too late."

Squeezing his hand "It is for us."

Clearing his throat "Do you guys still talk?"

"Well yeah I call her to check in but we donít talkÖ not really anyway."

"Iím sorry."

"Thanks. Maybe next time weíll go see her"

Running his thumb across her silk like skin "Sound good."

A comfortable silence hums between them. John turns the radio on to a soft Jazz station, and let the sound wash over him.

"John?"

"Yeah?" giving her a quick glace, then turning his eyes back to the road

She ponders whether or not she should ask him about what his mom told her. Knowing that little tidbit of him sparks her interest in him even more. "How come you never told me about what happened to you after Caitlin died?"

John stiffen in his seat, he look her over at a red light. After a pregnant pause "I didnít see how it was relevant, it was a long time ago."
"Even through John I would have like to hear it from you instead of your motherÖand from what I got from youíre mother it wasnít a long time ago."

"What?" he said getting angry "To find out information about me, you are questioning my mother about me?"

Sitting up in her seat "No, she told me all about you on her own John. I didnít have to resort to some underhand tactic to learn what you should have told me in the first place." turning her head away from him, her mouth in a straight line.

The silence in the car is thick with a tension that neither wanted. "Iím sorryÖI was wrong to jump to conclusionÖ"

The car is silent, as she tunes him out. Five minutes goes into 10 until she finally stop looking the window. Sensing her gaze on him, he turns.

Looking in his beautiful blue eyes, sheís a goner; angry quickly fades away at the remorse in his eyes. She takes his hand in hers and gives it a squeeze and gives him a kiss on the cheek.

"Itís okay John, I know that Caitlin and your past is a touchy subject for you but I hope that one day youíll trust me enough to tell me what happen."

"It not that I donít trust you it just-" he said giving her quick glance while he drives the car.

"John just leave it at that okay?"

Not wanting to but agreeing to her wish, he give a curt nod.

*********************

Coming back to Llanview hours later, they both fell asleep when they reach Johnís hotel room in the middle of the night.

Next afternoon, John drop Evangeline home with a kiss, and a promise to call her later. Leaving her luggages where John left it, she went to go check her messages.

Deleting the messages from Kevin, and listening to the other message she went to call her office. Finding out nothing urgent need her immediate attention, she decides to work at her house.

Working on the Clayton case, she frowns in worry maybe she would end up going to trial, the prosecutor had a lot of evidence against her client. Most of them were circumstantial but what about the two key witnesses who swore they saw everything?

Kneading the migraine that was coming on, she sips her bottle of water. She call her office to fax in the affidavits of the two key witnesses to go over it once more. Getting the paper from the fax machine, she breaks it apart until she has every last word memorize. They were too much alike, too identical to be true. One of them or both had to be lying.

Yawning, she call Johnís mom to let her know they were okay she also calls her mom, as usual the conversation lacks something.

After going through the case one more time, she put it aside to begin packing for her business trip. Groaning at the ringing phone she let the answer machine pick up.

"Hey Evangeline heard you got back todayÖ"

"UGH" a scream of aggravation emit the room. "Why wonít that man leave me alone?" she said aloud to herself.

"I know your there, I called youíre office and they told me you were working at home and I-"

Before another word could come from him, she pick up the phone, cooling her temper down with long deep breaths. "Stop calling me Kevin."

"Not until you give me a chance." his arrogance made her want her to take him down a notch.

"Kevin there is no us never will be an us. Even if John and I were to break up tonight, I would still not go out with you."

"Never say never."

" Kevin-" realizing this was pointless she hang up. Unplugging the phone line from the jack, she continues her packing, wanting to be ahead of schedule. Throwing in everything she might need, she pick up the picture of John that sits on her nightstand.

Sitting on the bed and tracing his face with a fingernail she smile. Remembering the incredible weekend they had together. A flush spread through her body at the thought of his hands on her body. Putting the photo in her suitcase, she picks up her cell.

"Hey John it me um I just wanted to call because I amÖthinking of you and I just want to say hi. Donít worry about calling me back, have a good day."

Putting the phone down, she stares at it. Shaking her head, she recline back down on the bed. "Iím in love with John. No big deal." that was the first time she said the words out loud. A burden she hadnít known was there lifted with magical wings.
****************
Across town John Mcbain sit in his office staring at the walls. Boredom is the worst thing in the world. After coming back to town everything that need to be done he had completed before their trip. He could go over to Evangeline but he didnít want to.

Part of him want to run to her but the other part was afraid to see her. Something is different about her. He couldnít pinpoint it but he could feel it in his gut. He could swear he has seen the look before maybe not in the same way but the same feeling behind it.

A coward is what he is, staying away from her because of this. Checking his phone messages he came across the one from her. Hearing her soft, sultry voice brought an inner peace to him. Thinking of her mocha color skin, dark chocolate eyes with enticing lips made him want her all over again.

He could picture her easily, her leaning over him, her hair hiding the side of his face as she lean in closer.

"Lieutenant?" an officer poke his head in his office.

"Yes?" sitting up straighter behind his desk.

"There has been trouble at Angel Square and the Commissioner want to know if you could check it out?"

Putting on his jacket thatís behind his chair "Iím on it." nodding the officer left him alone. Putting his phone on the clip he head out.

*********

Three days later after going into the murder that happened at Angel Square three before they were able to trace it back to two rookies who had questioned Tom and Harry, the ones who committed the murder.

Smith walks along with John, trying to keep up with his fast pace. "Sir so three morning ago me and my partner Hyde were doing our routine and we we saw two guys looking bizarre so we stop them and ask them what was going on. After answering out question they gave us no further reason to suspect them so we let them go."

Taking a huge breath from his rush sentence he goes on "Then later on like around" quickly he check his watch, " 1, we got a call about 4 people being stab from a Vega not to far away from the church."

"Vega?" John growls. Suddenly alert, he hadnít really been paying attention to what the young cop was saying but when he said Vega that caught his attention.

He was nervous thus causing him to stammer and saying his words in one breath.
At the sound of his superior voice he jump "yeees sir Natalie Vega I believe"

Turning around he face the young man "Are you sure?"

Scared in his boots, he nods shakily "99.9% sure boss."

Questions explode in his brain. What does Natalie have to do with this? Why was she even around the square? She should have been at work at the time the murders took place. Taking a breath he took back at Smith "Okay. What happens after that?"

"After that we, um I mean Hyde well we went to go investigate and we found the body and it was taken to a lab to be check out for prints and stuff like that andÖ"

Tired of hearing him talk he interrupted him "Did anyone go question Mrs. Vega?"

"Ah no sir." the nerves coming back in full force at the look the detective threw his way.

Running his finger through his hair, he chew his gum extra hard "Was anyone in the near vicinity questioned at the time the stabbings took place?"

"Ah no no sir" he step back a pace.

"Then what the hell were you guys doing till now?"

"We were we were um-"

"Forget it. I want you and your partner to go question anyone who might have seen it. I will go question Mrs. Vega."

"Yes yes sir right on it sir" with a click of his heel the police officer left.

Checking in with the police station, he lets them know what he is doing in case they need him.

********

At Rodi

John enter Rodi and immediately sees Natalie behind the bar serving drinks. He sit down at a table near the bar but not close enough that she would notice him. He studies her mannerism and catches how her hand shakes every now and then. Looking more closely at her face he makes a note of how she keeps looking around the room in a nervous manner.

Her phone ring and after wiping her hand on her apron she step away from the bar. Before she could hide her reaction he saw the fear that cross her face and the way she clench the phone. When she came back to the bar she is even edgier than before.

Standing up from his table, he walk over to the bar. "Hey." surprise came over her face than something came into her eyes something resembling terror. Acting like he didnít see it, he ask her instead "Can I get a beer?"

"Suuure," she clears her throat "of course John." She takes a beer from the back and hand it to him.

Nodding his thanks he take a sip "Have you been here all day three days ago?" keeping his question innocent yet watching her reaction like a hawk.

She almost drop the cup sheís drying "Um why why do you ask John?" her voice ending in a higher pitch.

"I came by that day like around one," he pause when her face went white "and I ask about you but you werenít here" the lie came smoothly from his firm lips.

"You came by that day?" a smile on her face that he came to see her despite the fear that it invoke. When he nod "around one well ah I was out around the Ang no I was at Carlottaís diner"

He heard the slip up but he didnít acknowledge it, not wanting to make her tenser than she is " Do you have time for some pool?"

"OhÖ" not expecting the question, looking around the bar "Yeah I got time. Let me tell Tina Iím going on a break"

Standing up he goes to the empty pool table, putting his beer on the side he get a cue stick. When he came back, Natalie is already ready with a bottle of beer in her hand.

Grinning "Are you ready to lose?" she ask putting her stick together.

Smirking back "Donít you think it a little too soon to admit defeat?"

"Put your game where you mouth is." Looking at her he could almost forget he is here on business. Itís like old times when he would come in and they would play pool and talk but it wasnít like old times he is here on business.

They play an intense game only talking when itís necessary, no one really getting the upper hand. The best time she had in month is with a man that wasnít even hersÖyet. She couldnít imagine Miss Diva doing this with John, letting her hair down having a couple of beers and playing a game of pool.

She couldnít imagine Evangeline giving him everything he needs. After ending it with Paul, she realize she want John back. She know John feels something for her, so all she to do is make him realize his feelings for her. The thing with Paul didnít go the way she plan but did put her back on Johnís radar.

"How is Evangeline?"

"Evangeline? Sheís fine. Why do you ask?"

"I was just wonderingÖI havenít seen her in a long time."

"I wasnít aware you guys hung out." Giving her a weird look.

"We donít" she look at the floor for a minute. Looking back up "I was just wondering if you guys were okay thats allÖI would hate for you guys to have problem."

John not hearing the sarcasm in her voice, he sit down. "We are in a good place right now so no problem to speak of."

"OhÖ" her voice failing "Iím glad to hear thatÖlets play."

"Actually I want to ask you something?" he stands up putting his weight on the cue stick.

"What?" also leaning back and taking a swing of her drink.

"Did you hear anything about the stabbing of four people three days earlier?"

She tense her posture "Why are you asking me that John? Do you think I have something to do with it?"

"Hey slow down Iím just asking if you heard something about itÖ that it." Holding his hand up in front of him. "Donít get so defensive."

"Youíre right. Sorry," she rotates her shoulder "its been a long dayÖ no I havenít heard anything."

"Bullshit."

"What?" Natalie exclaim stun, thinking he was going to accept her answer as the truth.

"You were the one who called in Natalie to report it."

Looking at him, she bites her lower lip "No, you must have gotten the wrong Natalie."

"Not possible he said it was Vega. Natalie Vega and the last I heard that was you." he advance on her as she back away.

"No it canít be. There is no way." she runs outside. Following her, he catch her outside before she could go any further.

"I should have known you wouldnít have come by to see me there had to be an ulterior motive." She says accusing him. "Gosh Iím so stupidÖalways falling for the same damn thing."

"Natalie whatís going on?" shaking her lightly yet firmly.

"Nothing." looking into his eyes, she break down "Well Paul-"

"Hold on." picking up his phone he steps away from Natalie. "Mcbain." he listens to the phone grunting every now and again "Iíll be there, make sure they donít do anything stupid."

Turning back to her "I have to go. Thereís a situation. Weíll talk about this later."

"Where are you going?" she say griping his arm so he couldnít go anywhere.

He tried shaking her away without hurting her but she had a good grip on him. "We think they may have found the guys who killed the men."

"No, you canít go. They are dangerous andÖ" she begins to babbles with worry.

"I have to. It s what I do Natalie." Effectively cutting her off. When she still hang on him, he gently dislodge her hand from his arm and leaves.

"Be careful John." She whispers into the wind.

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