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For all we know

(The Williamson sisters arrived in Llanview as two fierce young ladies but their time in Llanview certainly doused much of their fire. Years later we find Evangeline declared dead and Layla caught between the two Vega men. Unforeseen circumstances ignite an ember that may just give Layla the boost to rediscover and reclaim her 'fierceness'.)

(Title of this story taken from the song "For all we know" music by J. Fred Coots and lyrics by Sam L. Lewis, "For all we know we may never meet again/ Before you go make this moment sweet again/ We won't say Good night; until the last minute/ I'll hold out my hand and my heart will be in it/ For all we know this may only be a dream/ We come and go like a ripple on a stream/ So love me tonight; tomorrow was made for some/ Tomorrow may never come for all we know". The song and lyrics were mentioned in the movie, Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont, 2005)

Chapter 1

Don't ask me how I got myself in this situation. My intentions were noble but along the way I lost a part of me. I just wanted to help Antonio get custody of his daughter Jamie. Jaime's grandfather, RJ Gannon, Jamie's mother's father, sued for custody and I thought that if Antonio could show that he had a stable home life that it would help his case. After all I am an actress and I figured that I could play that part with my eyes closed. Nowhere in the script was I to fall in love with the man, but I did. Antonio did gain custody of Jamie and my services were no longer needed. A 'thank you' and 'see you later' was all I got for that. Antonio returned to his pursuit of Jessica Buchanan and I licked my wounds and trudged on.

Did I learn from that experience, evidently not? Now I find myself with another Vega man, Cristian, Antonio's brother. What has happened to me since I came to Llanview? I was fierce, brash, spoke my mind and 'took no prisoners'. Cristian should have been the last man in the world whom I would date. For goodness sake he was my sister's ex-boyfriend and the brother of the man who broke my heart. Well of course we didn't get together until after he and my sister broke up but still. Isn't there a rule about sisters not dating the same guys? Well it shouldn't have surprised me that a similar rule doesn't apply to the Vega men because they are known for dating the same women. Antonio is with Jessica who was Cristian's teenage sweetheart.

Now what do I do because I can't deny that I do love Cristian? He was there for me when Evangeline was attacked, left in an irreversible coma and declared dead. We both mourned her loss. That brought us together and now maybe I realize that it was the 'only' thing keeping us together. I can't go on like this.

xXxXxXx

New Year's Eve in the nation's capital and everyone is enjoying the celebration. Looking for an event to attend I decide to go to the masquerade party at the Hyatt downtown. This is not something that I would usually do but I need to get out of my hotel room and do something different. The place is crowded and eveyone seems to be having a great time. With my drink in hand I take a walk around the ballroom and play a game of guessing the costumes. Some are easy to guess, like George Washington, Marilyn Monroe, Benjamin Franklin, Abraham Lincoln, Cleopatra, Phantom of the Opera and Napoleon but some others I didn't even try to guess. Then I see this lovely lady about twenty feet ahead of me dressed in a costume consisting of a blue satin lace high neck ball gown dress with long sleeves and a white high wig and full face mask. Marie Antoinette I presume. For some unexplained reason, something about her draws me to her. I approach her and ask for a dance. She doesn't say anything. She simply nods her head and we move out to the dance floor. If I didn't know any better I would have sworn that I knew her because she felt so right in my arms. The song ends too soon and I am not ready to let her leave.

"This is not something that I usually do but I can't let you leave yet. There's something about you that has me enthralled and I just have to have a taste of you."

I can't believe that I said that to a complete stranger. Stranger still she allows me to take her hand and lead her into an empty meeting room. Pulling the door close and locking it I press her against the wall and smother her neck with kisses. When I go to remove her mask she stops me and whispers for me to leave on her mask and clothing. If I want her then I'll have to do it the hard way. Soon her dress skirt is pulled up to her waist and I'm pounding into her and I am in heaven. Feeling the sensation building inside of me I say to her,

"You remind me of someone I knew long ago. Someone I loved deeply."

I stop, and then as if a switch flipped, I start again with such force and as I come, exploding inside of her, one name bounces around in my head but my mouth does not dare voice it. Once we recover we straighten our clothes and walk out the door back into the corridor. As soon as we are in the corridor she quickly departs and I don't even know her name.

xXxXxXx

(Three months later)

"What the two of you need to understand is that I am not a prize you win at the county fair. If you can't see that I am a beautiful, strong, intelligent woman then you need to leave me alone. I will not be pushed and pulled between the two of you trying to 'one up' each other. I have loved both of you and neither of you appreciated my love. Now you want me to believe that you love me and want a life with me. Well I don't believe it. You each want to be the winner. You want to rub it in the face of the other that I chose one of you over the other. Well I won't! Grow up you two! You have so much to offer a woman if you would just get out of your own way. Don't allow your prior relationships to doom you to a life alone. Those relationships didn't work out because they weren't for you at the time. That includes your relationship with me. None of us were ready for it at the time. I've changed since then but the two of you are the same thick head dopes you were before. I don't need that in my life and I won't have that in my life. Now if you will excuse me I have work to do. Don't bother me again. Good bye."

With those words Layla walks Antonio and Cristian out of her office and returns to her work. Sitting back at her desk she instructs her receptionist to not allow any more interruptions and to hold her phone calls. She thinks to herself that those two men have some nerve to think that she would want either of them the way that they are. Perhaps if they come out of the dark ages and treat her like the treasure that she is they may have a chance with her but it doesn't look like either of them have a clue as to what a 'woman wants', or at least what she wants. She's unique and until they realize that and offer her something special then she will leave them both alone.

Dialing the number she knows by heart and hoping that her 'listening ear' answers the phone she waits.

"Hello Layla. What can I do for you today?"

"Just letting you know that I did what you suggested and had that talk with the Vega brothers. Now it's up to them. I just want to thank you for being my sounding board in all of this. I know that you have your own worries but you still take the time to listen to me vent about my love life. How are you feeling today? Did you give any more thought to what we talked about yesterday? You can't avoid this forever."

"Layla, I know. But how do I just show up out of the blue? There are so many factors to consider. I don't know what to do. Whatever I decide it won't be easy. I have to go now. I have another call. I'll talk with you later."

"Okay. But before you go, just know that I will support you in whatever you decide."

"Thank you Layla. I really appreciate that."

xXxXxXx

Two days later, Antonio and Cristian meet to discuss their latest interaction with Layla. What she said to them really bothered them.

"Antonio, we both can't have Layla and so we need to do what she said. I've thought about what she said and the two of us do have a history of having the same woman. Layla has made it clear that she will not be tossed back and forth between the two of us. I can only speak for myself but if I am totally honest I think that my attraction to Layla had a lot to do with me missing Evangeline. It never crossed my mind at the time to question whether I really loved Layla or was just putting her in place of Evangeline. And if I'm really honest with myself I think that my relationship with Evangeline had more to do with my need to feel needed. Evangeline never stopped loving John, even if she couldn't admit it. I was there for her when she was blind and helped her through that. We will never know if she really felt anything for me. I told her that I loved her, something that John never did, and I think that she fell in love with the words and not really with me.

I'm not going to pursue Layla any longer. My conflicted feelings will not help my situation and Layla deserves more than I can give her. She's had enough to deal with anyway. Even though it's been a while now she's still mourning losing Evangeline. I don't want to add any more stress to her. I will always care for her but it's best that I not continue to pursue a romantic relationship with her."

Antonio is really surprised at Cristian's decision. Layla's words must have really rattled him. He thought that Cristian would throw down the gauntlet and declare 'may the best man win'. But Cristian is right. Layla has been through a lot and she deserves peace.

"Cristian, I must say that I am surprised at your decision. I thought that you would put up more of a fight but I understand what you're saying. Layla does deserve some peace from all that has happened to her. I really do care for Layla. She was there for me when I was fighting to retain custody of Jamie. She is beautiful, feisty, strong, brash and a handful. She keeps me 'on my toes' and doesn't let me get away with anything. For so long I chased after this elusive relationship with Jessica and I realize that the Jessica that I knew and loved is no more. Layla was right when she said that our prior relationships didn't work because they weren't for us.

You and Jessica were teenage sweethearts and I never should have even tried anything with her but I remember how happy you were with Jessica and I thought that I could have the same happiness with her. I was wrong. I want Layla in my life and I realize that I have to do more to show her that I am genuine. I was ready to fight you for her but not in a 'winner take all' kind of thing but a fight to have her in my life. I want to marry her not just have a relationship with her. I want a family. Whew! I can't believe that I actually said that but it's true. Layla's strong and I need someone strong but she's also sensitive and I would love to be there when she needs someone to support her.

I know that she has feelings for you Cristian and I will have to confront those feelings but I won't give up on her. I'm in it for 'the long haul'. Ms. Williamson doesn't know it yet but she will have a fight on her hands to keep me away. I will not give up on her. She deserves the best and I plan to give her the best and not just monetarily but emotionally too. She will be a Vega, just you wait and see."

Cristian smiles and hugs his brother. He knows that Antonio will follow through on what he said. Cristian does not regret his decision. He believes that love will find him and the woman for him is out there somewhere. But one thing that Cristian does want to do is talk one last time with Layla to let her know that he is not pursuing her because he doesn't want her but because he is not good for her and does not want to add to her worries. He mentions this to Antonio and Antonio agrees that they both should meet again with Layla so that she understands that they both want her to be happy.

xXxXxXx

Antonio returns to work at the police station and stops to speak with John McBain. Knocking on John's office door, Antonio finds John working on a report at this desk.

"Hey John. How are things going? I haven't seen too much of you since you returned from that convention earlier in the year. You've been fairly quiet."

"Hi Antonio. Things are fine. I've just been busy. How are things with you?"

"Things are fine with me. Just wanted to check on you. Maybe one day after work this week we can stop at Rodi's, have a drink and maybe play a game of pool."

"Sure Antonio. That sounds good. Well let me get back to this report. Bo's waiting for it."

"Alright I'll let you get back to your report. I'll check with you later about Rodi's."

Antonio leaves John's office and John finishes his report and takes it to Bo. Returning to his office John sits at his desk and thinks about what's happening with him. Work is as busy as ever but something is different. A few months ago something happened to him and he hasn't been the same since then. No one else knows about it. If he can't explain it to himself how can he explain it to anyone else? He thinks about it ever so often and he still can't explain why he did what he did but it has changed him. That incident made him feel more alive than he had felt in years. Now he actually sees the blue sky when before he would just rush through the day not even noticing if there were clouds or if the sun was shining. He hears the laughter of the children when he walks through the park on the way to work instead of drowning out the sounds as he often did. Lunch now consists of a sandwich and not just a cup of coffee. Little things add up to a lot. Well nothing he can do about it now. Back to work.

Antonio and John do meet for that beer and game of pool and John feels things returning to normal. He is still more attuned to his surroundings but now the sensations don't seem so odd to him.

xXxXxXx

Cristian and Antonio finally meet with Layla and inform her of their decisions. She thanks them for taking the time to consider her point of view in all that has happened between them individually and collectively. She thanks Cristian for his support during the loss of Evangeline and agrees with him that perhaps both of them muddled their mourning for Evangeline with romantic feelings for each other. They hug and kiss each other's cheeks and then Cristian leaves. Antonio remains to privately plead his case with Layla.

"Layla I apologize for mistreating you and hurting you when I left you for Jessica. You were right. My relationship with Jessica was not good for either of us. She is better without me in her life and I am better without her in my life. I see you Layla. You are a loving, thoughtful, beautiful and strong woman. I took you for granted and I was a fool to do that. Things may not have worked for you and Cristian, and for that I am glad, but I hope that you will give me another opportunity to prove to you that I am trustworthy with your feelings and with your love.

Look at you now! You are a successful businesswoman. You blew into town like a whirlwind. Things didn't always work out for you but you never gave up. You pushed on to make things better for yourself. You and your sister Evangeline were both fierce. I miss her you know. Evangeline was not only my lawyer but she was also my friend. I may not have always done right by her but she always did right by me. I regret that. Layla, I want to be a part of your life. What do I have to do to make that a reality?"

Layla looks at Antonio and smiles. She didn't think that the brothers Vega would 'see the light' so quickly but she's glad that they have. As much as she wants to make Antonio grovel she knows that each day of one's life is precious and she has no time for games.

"Antonio, I really do appreciate that 'you've come to your senses'. All I can offer to you now is for us to take things slowly. Maybe we can have dinner later this week or maybe go to a show. You can think of some other things for us to do and I 'might' consider them."

Not wanting to give Layla any time to change her mind Antonio quickly agrees to her terms. Knowing that she is being generous to even consider him he makes a point to also offer other things that they might do to reconnect. Layla seems impressed that he is making the effort to participate so she agrees with his suggestions. They make a dinner date for this coming Friday and Antonio leaves to return to work. Layla sits at her desk smiling to herself thinking how great things turned out for her. She's looking forward to spending time with Antonio.

Wanting to share her good news she dials her confidante. No answer but Layla leaves a message for a return call. Checking her calendar Layla realizes that if she doesn't leave her office now that she will arrive at her afternoon meeting late and that would not look good for her. This is a new supplier with whom she's trying to develop a working relationship. Gathering her files for the meeting she puts them in her briefcase and rushes out the door.

Hours later when she arrives home she checks her phone messages. She turned off her phone while at the meeting and forgot to turn it back on. She didn't have a return message and that puzzled her. Trying not to worry she decides to wait until after dinner to try to reach them again. After a shower and a light dinner she sits on her sofa to make the call. Three rings later the call connects.

"Hi, did you get my message?"

"Yes I did but I didn't have time to respond. Today has been so hectic for me and I figured that I would call you later. You beat me to it. What's up?"

"The Vega brothers met with me today and things went better than I could have ever imagined. Cristian bowed out and Antonio wants to court me. Can you believe that?"

"Yes I can. I didn't want to say anything to cloud your judgment because this was a decision that you alone had to make. I'm glad for you. Take your time and allow him to prove himself. You are worth it."

"Yes I am. Thank you for always being here for me. You said that your day was hectic. Good things I hope."

"Yes good things. I finally made a decision about something that I have avoided. I don't know how it will turn out but I have to do this."

"Whatever it is you have my support and if there's anything I can do to help you just let me know. Hold on. Someone is knocking on my door. Oh! It's probably a late delivery from this new supplier. They were to send a sample to the office and when I had not received it before I left I instructed my assistant to drop it by here. They were working late anyway and agreed to do that for me. Hold on while I get it."

Layla goes to the door and opens it. It is not her assistant and there is no package from the supplier.

xXxXxXx

A few weeks later Layla and Antonio are set to have a special dinner with select friends. It didn't take much time for them to reconnect and they are both anxious to share their joy with others. Antonio has a private room in Capricorn set aside for the gathering. Whatever Layla wants Antonio is there to supply but he is a bit surprised at the guest list. Cristian, Bo, Nora and even John he understands their names on the guest list but Todd Manning's name is a complete surprise. Layla does not offer any explanation she simply sends the invitations.

Spring had sprung and it is a beautiful clear night. Capricorn is packed and the music is humming. The private room looks marvelous and the food and drinks are ready for consuming. Cristian arrives early to help Antonio. The private room is situated in the back of the club and off to the side so the general public cannot even see who enters or leaves the room. Bo and Nora arrive together and John soon follows. Todd arrives a few minutes later.

Just as the guests sit down at the table, Layla enters. She looks beautiful with a mid calf long sleeved dress with her hair in an updo, perfect makeup and a gleaming smile to finish the look. She thanks everyone for coming. Antonio joins her at the head of the table and the meal begins. Todd asks why he was invited since he doesn't have much to do with either of them. Layla looks at him and tells him that it is important to her that he is here and if he will just bear with her for a few moments she would appreciate it. Todd looks at her and sees her sincerity and so he puts aside his misgivings and stays.

The food is delicious and everyone is ready for dessert. Before the guests move to the dessert table Layla asks for their attention.

"First let me thank each of you for coming this evening and sharing this time with Antonio and me. It hasn't been easy for us and each of you in your own way have enabled us to make it back to each other. Some of you are probably shaking your head and asking yourself what did you do to help us? I will tell you.

I was lost when my sister Evangeline died. Cristian helped me through that time. Nora you were there for me and listened when I wanted to do nothing else but talk about my sister. You understood because you missed her too. Bo, you offered me a job when I was floundering trying to make ends meet and find a purpose in my life. John, you may not believe this but you helped me too. You shared a private moment with me when I told you that my sister died. You didn't have to but you did. And Todd, you always believed in her. In her goodness and it helped me to never forget how great of a person she was. That helped me to get through mourning her. You each were her friends but you helped me too. Without all that you did I would not be here today to have a life with Antonio. Now I have something for all of you to thank you for all of your help to me during one of the most difficult times in my life."

Layla goes to the side door, opens it and moves aside. Everyone gasps. Todd is the first one up out of his chair. He knows what it is to 'return from the dead'. He grabs her as best he can and kisses her cheeks. Nora rushes up and pushes Todd out of the way and grabs her friend. The remaining guests sit at the table totally speechless.

How fitting that the first two to greet her are Todd and Nora. If anyone knows what it is to 'return from the dead' it is Todd Manning. Pronounced dead after his execution for a crime he did not commit medical authorities revived him and he survived. Nora knows what it is to lapse into a coma and have the medical staff doubt that she would ever recover, but she did. Now these three can commiserate as no one else can.

She relishes their hugs. She has missed them both so much. Her two best friends in the world. After the initial shock to everyone present, the room is filled with questions, "When did this happen?" "Where have you been?" "Why didn't you tell us?"

At that point Layla interrupts the questioning. "Give her time to breathe. Does it really matter where, when, or why? She's here now and why should you care how it happened, or when it happened? I'm just so thankful that it did happen. And before you ask me, no I didn't tell anyone because it was not my secret to tell. It was up to her to return when she felt up to it and only if she wanted to return. This is her life and she will live it as she chooses. No one has the right to dictate to her. She's been through hell and I will fight anyone who even tries to give her a hard time. Now with that said, I am so happy for you to see my sister standing here alive and well."

Bo, Cristian and Antonio all get up to go to hug Evangeline. They are so happy to see her alive and well. John is the last one to leave his seat. Of course he is overjoyed to see her alive too. There is something about her that does have his heart aching though. She is noticeably pregnant. She's having someone else's baby.

Todd, of course is the one who first addresses that. "Evangeline you look beautiful as usual and we can see that congratulations are in order. When are you due and who's the lucky man?"

Layla and Nora both start to fuss at Todd but Evangeline stops them. She looks around the room as she answers the question, "I'm due in late September, early October. My baby and I are doing quite well. As to the rest of your question, I'd rather not answer. Can we leave it at that?"

Todd looks a little embarrassed for bringing it up but he's sure that everyone else was thinking the same thing but he doesn't want to upset his friend. "That's alright Evangeline. I'm happy for you. I don't care who he is. You're home now and we can experience this blessed occasion with you. I can't tell you how happy I am to see you. We have to get together soon so clear your calendar because I will be a regular visitor."

Evangeline smiles and goes to Todd and takes his face in her hands, "I am so sorry that I wasn't here for you when you finally found your son. I'm glad that he's with you now. I've missed you so much." Todd looks into her tear-filled eyes and brushes away the tear that rolls down her cheek, "You're here now and that's what is important." They two stand there as if they are the only two people in the room. Realizing that the others want a word with her, Evangeline drops her hands from Todd's face and he kisses her on her forehead. He moves back away from her and allows her to move over to Cristian who grabs her into a bear hug.

Cristianstill can't believe that she is here but she is. He's holding her and she feels so good. Although they had broken up by the time of the gassing, she will always hold a special place in his heart. She's pregnant so she obviously has someone else in her as Layla said, it really doesn't matter when she revived, he's just glad that she did. Evangeline doesn't say anything to Cristian. What can she say? He moved on to her sister after their breakup and when Evangeline found out about that it irked her. She was not too pleased with Layla either but that's in the past. She hugs him back and then moves on to Bo.

Bo is still dumbfounded that Evangeline Williamson is alive. He was the one who conducted CPR on her when her heart stopped after they pulled her out of the gas filled room at Cristian's studio. He was at the hospital when the doctor reported that she had lapsed into a coma. He comforted Nora when they received word of Evangeline's death. Now here she stands before him, alive and well. All that other stuff doesn't matter now. She is here and for that he is most grateful. Evangeline Williamson, attorney extraordinaire, is back in town. He smiles at that thought as he once again hugs her. No words are needed.

Antonio comes up after Bo and takes Evangeline in his arms and hugs her as tight as he can. He knows how much this means to Layla and he will do anything for his ladylove. Antonio knew that he wasn't as good a friend as he could have been to Evangeline before she went away but he won't make that mistake this time. He agrees with Todd that now that she is back things will be different. They all will share with her in this blessed event. It doesn't matter who the father is. She is their friend and that's all that matters.

John patiently waits his turn to have his time with Evangeline. Never did he expect to ever see her again and now here she is right in front of him. He's so glad and yet so sad too. She has someone else in her life now. Sure he knows that the two of them broke up years ago but she was still in his heart. He grieved when Layla told him of Evangeline's death. His hope of any reconciliation died then too. Somewhere inside of him he held a glimmer of hope that one day, even after all that he did to sabotage their relationship, that one day they would find their way back to each other. That day never came and all hope died when she died. Now she is here again and there is no hope any more because she is with someone else. Finally she makes her way to John.

Their eyes meet. He pulls her to him and relishes the feel of her in his arms again. He breathes a sign of relief, a sigh of gratitude for her return, and a sign of regret that she will never be his again. Other than with Todd, Evangeline does have something to say to John. While he holds her close to him she whispers in his ear, "Hello Mr. Holmes." John freezes. How does she know about that? He didn't tell anyone about that. He pulls back and looks at her. "What did you just say?" he asks her. She smiles and responds, "Not here. Soon I will tell you everything." He doesn't' want to let her go. He wants to know now how she knows about that but he releases her and she goes to Nora and Layla.

Needless to say no one in the room wants dessert now. All they want to do is talk with Evangeline. She indulges them for about and hour and then tells them that she's tired and wants to leave. Layla will take her home. Evangeline's staying with Layla for now. As they reach the exit door John comes up behind her. "When will you tell me everything?" She's knows that he wants and needs to know what she has to say so she tells him to meet her at Layla's in an hour.

xXxXxXx

Layla gets Evangeline settled and makes certain that she has everything that she needs. She reminds Evangeline not to stress herself. Wanting to give Evangeline and John some privacy for this conversation Layla decides to go to Antonio's. Of course Antonio is more than happy for that. Plus that way Layla can leave her car for Evangeline to use. Layla leaves and Evangeline takes a shower and puts on a pair of loose lounge pants and a baggy shirt. She puts her hair in a ponytail and waits for John. She doesn't have long to wait for as soon as she makes her way to the living room she hears a knock on the door. She goes to the door, opens it and invites John into the apartment.

"Come in John. Can I offer you anything to drink?"

"No thank you. I'm fine. Please let us sit down. You must be tired after this evening."

"Yes I am a bit. I know that you're anxious to hear what I have to say so I'll get right to it."

"Evangeline, when you said, 'Hello Mr. Holmes' I thought that I misheard you. Why did you say that?"

So many times she had rehearsed what she would say to him but the words would not come so she just starts talking:

"Another year is dawning and I don't want to sit here at my mom's house watching it on the television. There's always something happening in DC so I'm going to a party somewhere. I don't want to do the regular, run of the mill party either. I'm going all out. Hey look! This looks good. I'll go there.

A few hours later I'm at the party having a good time. The place is packed and the music is humming. Wait! I turn around and look into eyes I would know anywhere and lips I could point out at a hundred yards. How did he know that I was here? Nobody, other than my family, knows about me. He's coming towards me. Oh thank goodness. He doesn't recognize me. He wants to dance with me. I can do that. Stay calm Evangeline. Just have one dance with him and then get out of here before he recognizes you.

That one dance and I got to be in his arms once again. It felt so good. The music stops and the dance ends too soon. What is he saying to me?

("This is not something that I usually do but I can't let you leave yet. There's something about you that has me enthralled and I just have to have a taste of you.")

What does he mean 'have a taste of me' and why am I allowing him to pull me into a vacant room? He tries to remove my mask and clothing but I stop him. That's the only thing I stop him from doing because once he enters me I could not let go of him. It felt so good to make love to him again. I felt alive, I felt whole. I heard what he said about me reminding him of someone he once loved. But I couldn't dwell on that. I had to get out of there before I gave away my identity. As soon as we made it out of that room I ran as fast as I could to the exit and took a cab away from that place."

John sits and listens, blinking in unbelief that this is real. She was the woman at the masquerade party on New Year's Eve. She was dressed as Marie Antoinette and I was dressed as Sherlock Holmes, the great detective. How did I not recognize her? That's why her name echoed in my head when we were making love. New Year's Eve and she's due in September. Is the baby mine?

While John is quietly listening to Evangeline talk she's watching him. When she finishes talking she continues to watch him as he processes all that she has said. She even knows when he starts calculating the dates. She anticipates his question before he asks it.

"Is the baby mine Evangeline?"

"Yes John. The baby is yours. Now before you ask me why I took so long to tell you let me explain. I didn't realize that I was pregnant until I was two months along. Then I started to have some problems with the pregnancy."

John stops her then and says, "I'm sorry to hear that but you and the baby are okay now right?"

Evangeline smiles relieved that he's not angry that she took so long to tell him. She continues,

"I didn't want to say anything until the doctor could tell me that the baby would survive. The first trimester is a very sensitive time and many miscarriages occur during the first three months of a pregnancy. I wanted to wait until after that time before I said anything. I knew that the baby was yours John. I have not been with anyone else since I recovered from the coma. I'm not here to complicate your life John. I thought that it was only fair for you to know that you have a child on the way and allow you to participate in this pregnancy with me. If you want to you can accompany me to doctor's appointments, help me plan the nursery, whatever and how much you want to be involved is up to you John. I'm not asking anything from you for me. This is all for our child. You have your life and I have mine. We will be parents in a few months so I hope in that time that we can develop some time of cordial relationship that will allow us to co-parent.

John, I want and need you to believe that I don't regret making love to you that night. When I saw you in that ballroom all of the love that I had for you flooded through my veins and when we were together it just felt so right. It was careless of me to have unprotected sex with anyone but at that moment I didn't care. I knew it was you and I did not care."

John gets up from the sofa and walks around the room trying to understand this. First, Evangeline is alive and to top that she's having my baby. Evangeline is alive! Evangeline is having my baby! He stops, turns and looks at her. She's still sitting on the sofa watching him. At that moment he knows exactly what he has to do. Walking over to her, he kneels down and takes her hands in his. She opens her mouth to say something but he stops her.

"I'm sorry that you went through the first months of this pregnancy without me. You say that you only want me here for the baby but I want more. That night when we made love I felt alive, more alive than I have felt in years. Holding you in my arms, making love to you I felt like I was in heaven. Even not knowing it was you I said that you reminded me of someone I knew years ago. Someone I loved deeply. You said that you remembered that. I was talking about you Evangeline. I was talking about you. I know that while we were together I never told you that I loved you but I did love you. I too was careless having unprotected sex with a total stranger but I did not care. It felt like I was with you and I did not care about the risks. When that stranger ran away from me that night I thought to myself, 'I don't even know her name'. Since that night I have been walking around in a daze. That encounter changed me. I have a greater appreciation of my life now and I don't want to waste another minute. You may not feel any love for me now and that encounter may have been an anomaly for you but with you here now I know what I want. I want you. I want you and our child. I want a life with you. I want a family with you. I thought that you were dead and gone from me forever. I'm sure you've heard about the things I've done since we broke up but that's not me now Evangeline."

Evangeline sits quietly and listens to John. In her wildest dreams she never believed that it would happen this way. She thought that he would agree to co-parent but never did she imagine that he would want a life with her. Things are moving too fast. She's changed and he definitely has changed. He's never talked so clearly about what he feels and what he wants. She's getting overwhelmed.

"John, John, wait! You're going too fast for me. I never expected that you would want a life with me. Sure I thought that you would be glad that I am alive and hoped that you would be happy about the baby but it's been years since we've been together. Are you really serious that you want a life with me? Maybe we've both changed too much to make a relationship work and I don't want you to want me just because I'm pregnant."

"No Evangeline! That's not what I'm saying. When I made love to that stranger I was wishing that you were there with me. When you walked into that room tonight, before I noticed that you were pregnant, I wanted you then. I've made so many mistakes when it comes to you. I don't want to make any more. Tell me what you want me to do. If you don't want a life with me, it will break my heart, but I will do everything that I can to change your mind. I'm not giving up without a fight."

"I don't know John. Give me time to think about this. That's all that I can offer now. I have a doctor's appointment at Llanview General in two days. You can come with me then. There are so many things that I have to do before this baby comes. I have to find an apartment because I've imposed enough on Layla and she needs her space."

John is disappointed but he will take whatever she offers. He will accompany her to the doctor's appointment and he even offers to assist her in finding an apartment.

"What about work? Will you open up a new practice here?"

"No. I don't plan to work again until the baby is at least a year old. I do consulting work now, on my own schedule and I can do that over the phone and over the internet. I don't know if you remember but the lawsuit against the OPP allowed many of the victims to receive monetary compensation. My share was enough that I don't have to work ever again if I don't want to do so. Can we continue this talk at another time John? I'm tired and want to go to bed."

"Oh sure. Can I call you tomorrow? Maybe I can stop by and we can get started on that apartment search. What's your telephone number?"

"Funny you should ask that John. When I went to get a new cell phone account my old number was still available. How crazy is that? I guess it was meant to be."

"Yeah, I guess so. Well I will go now and let you get some rest. I will call you tomorrow and arrange a time to meet you at the hospital or I can stop by here to get you since you don't have a car yet."

"John thanks for the offer and I will accept the ride. That's another thing that I have to add to my list of things that I need to do. John you need to know that I never intended to ever return to Llanview. There are so many painful memories here. But with this pregnancy I could not allow that pain to prevent me from allowing you your rightful place in our child's life. The early difficulty with the pregnancy wasn't the only factor keeping me from letting you know. I had to get past those painful memories too and that includes the demise of our relationship. Even after all of these years that still hurts. But as I told you before, I don't regret being with you and I never will. And with that I will say good night John."

Evangeline walks John to the door and he leaves. She stands with her back to the door for a brief moment and then walks to her bedroom and goes to bed.

John makes it back to his apartment, takes a shower and sits on his bed thinking about this night. All he can do is smile. He says aloud, "Evangeline is alive and she's having my baby! That's the best news I've had in forever!"

xXxXxXx

Summer is now here and Evangeline is settled into an apartment, she has a car and her friends continue to surround her with their love. News of her return quickly swept through Llanview. Many were overjoyed to see her again and those who were not kept their opinions to themselves.

Layla and Antonio are now married and live in a beautiful home just on the outskirts of town. They're hosting a 4th of July party. Jamie is overjoyed to have Layla in her life. At the party we see:

Todd and his children, no Blair; Nora and Bo along with Matthew; Cristian is there with a date; Carlotta is there too; friends and co-workers fill out the guest list. The guests of honor arrive last. Everyone is so happy for them. This is not only a 4th of July party it is also an engagement party.

As the couple makes it to the table that's set up with streamers and balloons and banners everyone yells, "Congratulations!"

Evangeline waddles to the table with assistance from John. He was true to his word and fought for her. He made every doctor's appointment; helped her find a car; and helped her find an apartment, even though by the time that she did he had convinced her to move in with him. He no longer lived in the Angel Square Hotel. He convinced her of his sincerity to have a life with her. And a week ago he had whittled down her resistance enough so that he proposed to her and she accepted. They will have the wedding before the baby is born. They will be a family.

"So love me tonight; tomorrow was made for some/ Tomorrow may never come for all we know."

The End.