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The shortest distance

(The shortest distance between two points is a straight line – Archimedes. But when did life ever go in a straight line? There are hills, there are valleys, we rush to wait, we make plans that never materialize, we love, we despair, we lose, we gain and the days turn into weeks and the weeks into years.)

Part 1

You never know how much you have until you have to pack it up and move it. I'm not taking all of this 'stuff' with me. Trashing some, giving away other and what is left I can fit in my car.

Llanview has been my home for a number of years. My son was born here. I've loved here and I've lost here but it is time for me to leave. You may ask me why now and I must say that there is no future for me here. Yes my son lives with his mother. Things didn't work out with us. Natalie and I tried several times to make our relationship work but it never did. She's fed up with me now and will no longer put her life on hold waiting for me to decide to choose her. Who can blame her? We've broken up more times than other people have been in relationships. I don't blame her. She's doing what's right for her and I'm doing what's right for me. Of course I will keep in contact with my son. He is an innocent party in all of this drama.

Where am I going? Good question. Needing a change in my life and wanting new surroundings I've opted to move to a small town in need of a police chief. Policing is in my blood so I would never give that up but big city living has worn me down. Not to say that Llanview is anything like Philadelphia or Chicago but it is big enough to be a city. I want a slower pace and no more serial killers, arsonists or power hungry mob family bosses.

xXxXxXxXx

Well after several months living here I find that things are progressing well. The police staff has been quite accommodating. Evidently my reputation preceded me and folks appreciated having someone with my experience handling major crimes leading the police force. Surprisingly enough the patrol officers feel that they can learn something from me and that makes me feel valued. The pay and benefits are very good, so much so that instead of living in an apartment I opted to choose a house this time. That way when Liam visits he'll have a private yard where he can play and we will have our own space.

Funny enough several of the neighborhood leaders jockeyed to have me move into their area but I moved into a neighborhood that had easy access to my office. Although the other neighborhood leaders were disappointed they did appreciate my diligence to the job and my emphasis on serving everyone and not catering to one area over another.

Today the mayor has scheduled a meeting with the department heads of all the city governmental agencies for his annual beginning of the year sit down gathering. Since our town serves as the county seat the county sheriff, district attorney and the other county leaders are expected to also attend.

Hours later I'm back in my office working on this year's budget and thinking about the discussions at the earlier mayoral meeting. It was quite worthwhile and I left feeling encouraged that I made the right decision for me and definitely feel that I can offer much and can make a difference here. Unfortunately the district attorney did not attend due to a family emergency and the assistant district attorney attended but still offered much to the meeting.

The shortest distance

Part 2

Finishing up at work I make it home to find a package on my front porch. Picking it up and taking it inside I put it on the hallway table as I remove my jacket and put my gun in the safe. My keys and badge I place in the bowl that I keep on the table. Walking into the kitchen I take out my dinner to put it in the microwave. While it is cooking I open the package. Inside is a note:

John as I was clearing out some things in my spare room I found these pictures and thought that you might want them. As I looked at them I noticed how cute you and your brother were as little boys. Although Liam may not look just like you when you were his age I notice the resemblance. I thought that you might want to share these with Liam when he comes to visit next week. I know that you miss not seeing him every day but you had to do what was right for you and know that it is right for him too. Anyone could see that you were not happy and you deserve happiness my son. I hope that this move has given you some peace. I know that this is your summer with Liam so I won't visit this time but I will come to you for Thanksgiving. You came to me last Thanksgiving so I will come to you next Thanksgiving.

Love Mom

Mom not only sent pictures but she also sent some cookies, the kind that she always baked for me when I was little. I'm not one for sweets but my Mom's cookies are the best. I take a few cookies and place them on a saucer so that I can have them as dessert with my dinner. That was very sweet of mom to send me a 'care package'. The microwave sounds 'ding' and I remove the plate and sit at the counter in the kitchen. As eat I sort through the pictures. Some of them I don't remember but others bring a smile to my face. Michael and I were two rambunctious little boys. My mom had her hands full handling us after dad died.

I did try to be more responsible and watch out for Michael so that mom didn't have to worry about him. It was a lot for a ten year old but hey someone had to do it. Michael turned out great. He's a successful doctor and has a beautiful family. It took a long time for that to happen after the fiasco with Todd Manning's son but Michael and Marcie now have children of their own something they thought would never happen.

Talking about surprises, not only for Michael and Marcie but who could have ever imagined that Todd Manning wasn't Todd Manning but the twin brother Victor Lord. Talk about crazy that's exactly what it was. What kind of mother would do that to her children? Irene Manning took her sons and wiped away the memory of the real Todd Manning and held him captive and then planted memories in the other son Victor Lord to think that he was Todd Manning. Goodness gracious! That kind of stuff only happens in movies or soap operas! Anyway, Todd is now reunited with his family and Victor found that he has a daughter of his own as well as the son conceived by Margaret Cochran. So the twins do get their happy ever after and their mother can no longer torment them since she died not long after all of this was revealed.

So perhaps one day I will get my 'happy ever after'. I can't blame anyone but myself for my loneliness. There were those who wanted to share their lives with me but I could not fully commit. I thought for sure that Natalie and I were meant to be a couple but there was just something holding me back. With Marty that was really a relationship I should have never started. I was upset about Natalie moving on with someone else so I decided to move on with someone else. Marty was available and willing so hey I obliged her. That was so wrong of me. Don't let me start with the Blair situation. I married her so that she could maintain custody of her children but Blair was never right for me and evidently I wasn't in my 'right' mind. Then I get back with Natalie and we go hot and cold until she just couldn't take it anymore. To tell the truth I couldn't take it anymore either. It was like I was on a merry-go-round and I was tired of that so I got off the merry-go-round. Turns out Natalie was also tired of the on and off of our relationship.

Now why did I think those unhappy thoughts when my Mom just shared some happy memories with me? Let me get this house in order for Liam's visit. He's on summer break and it's the summer he will spend with me. I always look forward to spending time with him. He's growing so quickly and now that I don't see him every day his growth is so much more noticeable to me. The county fair is in town next week and the two of us can take in the attractions. This will be a first for Liam and it should be fun.

xXxXxXxXx

The County Fair is in full swing with rides, grandstand programs,
midway music stage, and daily on-ground activities.

I took off two weeks to spend it with Liam. The other weeks, while I'm at work, he's enrolled in day camps. Today we're at the County Fair. I have never seen Liam laugh so much. He's having a ball! Many of the rides he can board alone and ones that he can't I brave them to go with him. Can you tell that I'm not one for rides? Well I'm not. Between eating hot dogs, cotton candy, soda, corn on the cob and apple pie Liam and I are stuffed full. There are lots of interactive activities for the kids and Liam seemed to want to go to every one of them. We both had fun. It was a fun day. We made it back home, took showers and went to bed tired and full.

xXxXxXxXx

Once I returned to work the day camps were in full swing and in one of them Liam had the opportunity to meet persons from the many levels of law enforcement from police, district attorneys, public defenders and judges. I declined participation in the day camp presentations so one of the patrolmen attended. The sheriff's office staff also participated. Liam came home that night and told me he was so proud that I was a member of law enforcement and did so much good. That brought a smile to my face. He told me about the other participants and how excited he was that he got to meet so many important people. Even though I was police officer in Llanview I don't remember that Liam ever met any of the other members of the law enforcement community like the public defenders or the judges. Of course he couldn't remember all of their names but he felt important that he got to meet them. At this age Liam still doesn't know what he wants to be 'when he grows up' but he says that he has added law enforcement to his list.

How did the time pass so fast? The summer is over and I have to take Liam back to Llanview. It seems like he just arrived. He's sad to leave and I'm sad to see him go but it is what it is. We load the car and head out. It's only for the weekend. I drop Liam off at Llanfair and head over to Michael's house. Marcie refused for me to stay at a hotel. "We always have a room for you John," Marcie said. I drop my bag at Michael's and head to the police station to say hello to everyone. They are happy to see me and tell me that they miss me. Antonio calls me into his office. He's lead detective now. "Man that new place agrees with you. You look more relaxed and your face even smiles now," Antonio quips. "Ha, ha Antonio. My face knew how to smile before I left here but you're right about being more relaxed. Not to say that there isn't crime where I work now but just being away from Llanview has lifted a weight off me that I didn't even know I was carrying," I respond. We talk for a few minutes then I stop by Bo's office to say hello and find Nora there. "Hello you two. How are you?" I say as they turn around surprised to see me. "Hi John it's good to see you. How long are you here?" Bo asks. Nora walks over to give me a hug. "I head back in the morning. Just wanted to stop by to say hello." Nora pulls away and pats my cheek and says, "It's good to see you John. Take care." She turns back to Bo and tells him that she will talk with him later and then she leaves. I look at the door as she closes it and then look at Bo, "I'm sorry Bo did I interrupt something?" Bo looks at me and shakes his head, "No John. Nora asked to speak with me and then when you entered she stopped talking. I'm just as confused as you are. I'm sure she will let me know what's up when I talk with her later. So how are things with you?" Bo and I talk for a few more minutes and then I leave so that he can get back to his work. I head back to Michael's so that I can spend time with him and his family because I have to get up early in the morning to head back home. Home. That sounds so good.

(A/N: Not many more chapters left to this story. After all it is titled, 'The shortest distance'.)

The shortest distance

Part 3

Bo does speak later with Nora but she doesn't say anything about her abrupt departure from his office when John walked in. Nora said that she was just surprised to see John. Bo too was surprised to see John so he took what Nora said as the truth. Little did he know that there was more to Nora's reason for her behavior.

A few days before John dropped by Bo's office Nora was out of town visiting a friend. She had not seen this friend in years and out of the blue she received a cryptic note to call a number that Nora had never seen before. When Nora called that telephone number she got the shock of her life. If Nora had not been sitting when her friend walked into the room then Nora would have fainted to the floor. Nora thought that she was dreaming or hallucinating. This cannot be! This cannot be true! was all that Nora could think. Then she heard the voice that she thought that she would never hear again. "I'm sorry my friend but I had to see you. I've missed you so much." When Nora heard that voice, when she heard those words she didn't care anymore about how, when, or where she was just glad to see her friend. They talked for hours into the night. Only sleep and bathroom breaks interrupted their conversations. Nora stayed for a few days and left to return to Llanview. Nora knew what she had to do and she knew that she would do whatever she needed to do to help her friend.

xXxXxXxXx

Nora was never fond of Todd Manning and that goes the same for Victor Lord. But she feels sad for Victor because he suffered all the anger that people had against Todd Manning. So when she goes to meet with Victor she doesn't bring with her all the malice that she had felt for him in the past. She understands his pain a little better now. Victor was surprised to hear from Nora requesting a meeting. They decide to meet at a neutral place. The coffee shop two blocks from the courthouse works well for both of them. It is close to both Victor's magazine office and Nora's office building. When Victor arrives he sees Nora sitting in the back in a booth. He approaches and she looks up from her phone just as he arrives at her booth.

"Thank you for agreeing to meet with me Victor. I'm sure you're wondering why I asked to meet you. I won't keep you in suspense any longer. I have something for you." She hands to him a prepaid cell phone.

"What is this Nora? We two don't get along and I came because I am curious as to why you would contact me. Now you hand me a cell phone. Do I need to call someone? I have my own phone by the way."

"Victor I understand your apprehension but I mean no harm here please believe me. Just take the phone and play the video. You will understand once you view the video."

"Excuse me Nora but I do not want to see any porno videos of you and Bo. Disgusting!"

At that outburst Nora takes Victor's hand and thrusts the phone into it and puts the earphone in his ear and presses 'play' on the phone's screen.

Victor doesn't have time to recover and anyway his eyes are trained on the phone's screen. Looking at his face Nora can tell that he is as shocked as she was when she learned the truth. Victor doesn't say anything. No sound is coming from him but something does happen that takes Nora by surprise. Tears are dropping from Victor's cheeks onto the table. Nora takes a napkin and hands it to Victor. He doesn't look up, he doesn't tear his eyes away from the phone's screen. He simply takes the napkin and wipes his face. Nora sees the waiter approaching to take their order but she intercepts him and asks that he give them a few more minutes.

No one could have convinced Victor that the one thing that he wished would happen would come true. It had. He's sitting here and witnessing it for himself. To say that he is happy is an understatement. He is overjoyed, overwhelmed, ecstatic, he can't think of all the words to describe what he is feeling. The video soon ends and he looks up at Nora and smiles. Nora couldn't do anything less but smile right back at him. Their world is now right again.

The shortest distance

(Quote from Casablanca - Rick Blaine – "Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.")

Part 4

By the time that John returns home he is tired and hungry. Not wanting to cook anything he's glad that he stopped on the way home to pick up something to eat. After a shower he sits in the kitchen and eats his dinner washing it down with a beer. With a full stomach he makes his way to his bedroom and after brushing his teeth he goes to bed.

Knowing that he has a busy week ahead John decides to head to work earlier than usual the following morning. When he arrives at the station he checks in with the officer on the desk for an update on the night's activities. The officer reported that it was a fairly quiet night. John then proceeds to his office to begin work on staff evaluations and updated budget reports.

xXxXxXxXx

A few weeks later as John is in his office at the station sorting through his mail he finds a notice from the district attorney's office requesting that he meet for lunch at the local diner. John is a bit surprised because they usually meet at the DA's office in the courthouse. Not thinking any more about it John returns to his work.

Hours later John arrives at the diner and sits at his usual table to await the arrival of DA Turner. The waitress delivers John's order to his table and departs. Just as John starts to eat he senses someone watching him. Looking up John stops. He stops eating, he stops blinking, he stops breathing and he stops everything. Standing before him is someone he believed that he would never see again.

"Is this seat taken?" they ask. Noticing that John does not respond, the new arrival starts to ask again but before they can John jumps out of his chair and pulls them into his arms. He doesn't ask any questions he just holds them. People in the diner look at the pair and wonder what is happening. The person in his arms rubs John's back and just says over and over again, "It's okay." After a few minutes John regains his composure and still not saying anything takes money from his wallet, puts it on the table, and together they exit the diner . He takes them to his car and helps them to the passenger side and then he gets in the car. Once in the car he calls his office and tells the officer on the desk that he has a personal emergency and will call in when he is again available. Not waiting for a response from his passenger John drives quickly to his home.

Parking in front he rushes out of the car and goes to the passenger side and helps out the passenger. Grabbing their hand he pulls them along into his house and into his living room. Sitting them on the sofa he sits on the coffee table in front of them and finally talks.

"I won't ask you how long, where, when or anything like that. All I want to know is will you marry me? It is you I have loved. It is you I have loved all along."

"You don't want to know anything else? Are you sure? How do you know I'm not already married?"

"You're here. You wouldn't come here if you were already married. Please answer my question."

"Yes I will marry you John."

"Now you can tell me what happened."

With her acceptance of his proposal settled Evangeline Williamson tells John McBain all that happened to her since she was declared dead over five years ago. John listens intently and two hours later she reaches the end of her story. The end part is what has John bewildered now.

"So you have been offered the job of district attorney here in this county and probably in three years you will move up to judge? So you live here now?"

"I've not fully moved in yet? I'm short leasing an apartment for now. The district attorney's father is ill and he wants to move closer to his parents so that he can assist his mother and siblings in caring for his father. So I was offered the position. I didn't know you were here until a few days ago. The assistant district attorney told me how you usually eat lunch at the diner so I asked the office assistant to send you that note. I'm glad that you responded as you did. It was a long shot on my part but it worked."

"Can I kiss you now?"

"I would love for you to kiss me."

Taking her face in his hands he touches his lips to hers and as they breathe together their tongues greet each other and begin the dance known throughout the ages. John's memorized her face. He knows her touch by heart. He never thought that he would have this pleasure again and he relishes it anew. There is no longer any distance between them. He is hers and she is his.

The End.

A/N: It is so much fun writing stories about Evangeline and John. Even after all of these years this couple still holds my interest. Thnx for reading. Reviews, favorites and alerts are also welcomed.