Nora caught a glimpse of a game of Hearts on Natalie’s pc as she slipped past Bo’s so-called assistant and into his office. Earlier in the day, she’d noticed the cat-who-ate-the-canary grin on Natalie’s face as John literally ripped his hair out with nerves over Evangeline’s vanishing. She’d tried to like the girl for Bo’s sake, but these days, she wasn’t even sure Bo liked her.
"Hey Bo, got a minute? I need to run something by you," she said shutting the door behind her.
"Sure, Nora. I saw Daniel leave with Matthew about 20 minutes ago. He told me you’d stopped in to see Evangeline’s mother. How’s she holding up?"
"Not well. I told you her uncle called to say she hadn’t been at the beach cottage. He’s on his way back to town. Her mom’s a wreck. We were looking through her briefcase and we found something that might be important. I want to run this by you first, but I need you to promise you won’t tell anyone."
Bo steepled his fingers and leaned back in his seat. "Nora, I can’t make that kind of a promise if this information is central to a case."
"But we don’t know that we have a case yet. You’re the one who won’t issue the APB. Bo, I need you to trust me on this."
Bo gave his favorite ex-wife a long, thoughtful look. "I take it this has something to do with McBain?"
" ‘fraid so."
"All right. Off the record, what did you find?"
"We found a bunch of pamphlets and stuff off the Internet about pregnancy in her briefcase."
Bo half-rose in his chair and leaned towards Nora. "You think Evangeline is expecting?" he said in a stunned whisper.
"Well, she’s not the sort of woman to have that kind of stuff in her bag without a reason. And it would explain some things. When I found her with John in handcuffs, she’d just thrown up on his shoes. Her stomach is cast-iron, Bo."
"Yeah, I’ve seen the way you two can eat," he said with a wry smile.
"And John told me they’d had an ‘emotional’ talk at the Palace last night. Maybe this is what they were talking about. Maybe that’s why she left the Palace."
Bo nodded at Nora. "The pieces could add up that way. I take it you haven’t spoken to John?"
Nora frowned. "I wanted to run it by you before I approached him. I don’t think he knows anything about this. I don’t want to spill Evangeline’s private business if she hasn’t said anything to John."
"But you don’t want to keep him in the dark if this could shed light on her disappearance?"
Bo hit the interoffice button on his phone. "John, could you come in here?"
Nora hissed, "Bo Buchanan! I’ll kill you!"
"Nora, this could be serious. We’ve got to see what he knows."
John ignored Natalie as he pulled Bo’s door shut behind him. Bo noticed the dark circles under John’s eyes, but it looked as if he’d taken the time to shower and shave. Some of the guys in the squad room had taken to calling him "the vampire" because he spent so many nights at the station.
John nodded at Nora and leaned against the door.
"John, I’m going to get right to it: Nora here has reason to believe Evangeline is pregnant. Would you know anything about this?"
The words "Evangeline" and "pregnant" seemed to travel through the air like a slow-motion baseball hitting John right between the eyes. Bo and Nora watched as John’s legs threatened to give out under him. He grabbed for a chair and sunk into it, his mouth and eyes gaping.
"I’ll take that as a ‘no’," Bo said.
John’s lips were moving, but it was a long moment before he could form an audible and coherent sentence. He had that problem from time to time.
"Evangeline is going to have a baby?" Nora noticed the tears rising in his eyes. He breathed hard and an image of a beaming Evangeline, her arms around a rosy-brown baby with a swirl of dark hair, swam before him. "My baby. Our baby. We’re having a baby?"
Nora’s last doubt that John loved Evangeline dissolved in that moment. What she saw on his face wasn’t mere male pride at having sown a seed, but the rapture of a man who could see his love made manifest.
"Whoa cowboy," Bo said, rising and walking from behind his desk. "We’re not sure. Nora found a bunch of pamphlets and some printouts from pregnancy websites in Evangeline’s briefcase. We need to be careful not to put two and two together and get three. Could this have anything to do with the conversation you two had last night at the Palace?"
Like that, Evangeline and the baby vanished from John’s mind’s eye and he was back in Bo’s office with no idea where she’d gone.
Watching the light draining out of John’s face, Nora touched his sleeve. "We were thinking that maybe you knew, that you two had argued about the pregnancy and she’d taken off to think things through," she said softly.
A tide of dread washed away John’s fleeting sense of joy. He thought about how she’d looked the night before and he knew it was true. She was carrying his child.
There had been something different about her on the terrace. He wouldn’t call it the radiance of pregnancy – to him she always seemed to glow. But she’d had a softness about her that had been missing since she’d broken up with him. He thought of how she’d given in about the pearls. She hadn’t done that for him – or for them. She’d yielded because she’d been thinking about the baby. Their baby.
"No, that’s not what we talked about – I had no idea. But I know it’s true. She wasn’t angry with me. It had to be the baby – that’s why she accepted the pearls. I think she didn’t want there to be so much bad feeling between us."
He tossed his head back to stem the tears that threatened to run down his face. He remembered lifting the hair off her neck, the scent of her skin, his fingers grazing her collarbone. They had been so close.
"So, you think she might have gone off to think things over?" Bo prodded gently.
John turned his stricken face to Bo and Nora. "No. Don’t you see? She took the pearls back. I’m not saying she was ready to take me back – although I guess I thought maybe…. But it wasn’t about me. She didn’t want bad blood between us because she’d decided to have the baby. I know it. That wouldn’t make her run away."
A terrible coldness gripped John and he felt darkness rising up inside of him. He could feel Evangeline reaching out to him.
John’s voice rose. "Bo, she didn’t run away – someone took her!"
* * * * *