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Contrition (a one-shot)
She knows that it's been years since it happened but she feels in her heart that she must make amends. Someone may say that it won't make a difference but she resolves that she must at least try. She must let go of this guilt that she feels for the pain she caused in the past so that she can live in the present.
The first one on her list she feels will be the hardest because she was the 'offender' in this instance even though their relationship was already dissolving. They meet in his office and he expresses his surprise to hear from her.
"RJ, thank you for agreeing to meet with me. We haven't spoken in some time and I want you to know that I am so glad to see that you are doing well."
"Evangeline, it's good to see you too. It's true that we did not part as the best of friends but I would have never wanted you to have suffered as you did. I admit that at one time I wanted to see you hurt and that's why I told the DA about you and Todd. But what that hate group did to you was beyond belief.
Your betrayal with McBain really hurt me. Sure, we were having our problems at the time but I asked you point blank about your relationship with McBain and you lied to me to my face. As I saw it you used our troubles as an excuse to do what you did. There's nothing to say that I would have acted any different at the time but you still lied.
Now looking back at it I realize that we were drifting apart and it was best for us to part. I couldn't control you and I'm a guy who likes to be in control. So now I've said my part what do you want to say?"
Evangeline was not expecting RJ Gannon to respond as he just did. Collecting her thoughts, she responds,
"Your graciousness is a surprise RJ and I thank you for it. You are right. I should have been truthful with you and I want to apologize for that. I know it is late to do so but it is the right thing to do. Even with all of our troubles you did not deserve what I did to you. We agree that our relationship was in trouble and maybe that contributed to what I did but it in no way justifies what I did. I want us to bury this bitterness between us and we may never be friends but I do not want us to be enemies.
You are a strong, forceful, handsome and sometimes arrogant man and I know there is goodness in you RJ. I see it whenever you are with Jamie. Let the rest of the world see that too. It won't hurt for everyone to know that there is some humanity in the all-powerful Raymond James Gannon."
"Well at least you finally realize that I am all-powerful," RJ smiles as he replies. Evangeline stands to depart but before she does RJ pulls her into a hug and whispers in her ear, "Take care of yourself Evangeline. You deserve some happiness." He releases her and she nods her head as she exits his office. Arriving at her car, she breathes a sigh of relief that she survived that encounter and feels encouraged that she and RJ have taken a step in the right direction of moving on from their past.
A week later, Evangeline meets with Cristian Vega at his mother's diner. To have some privacy they sit in a booth in the rear and plus Evangeline didn't want to visit Cristian's art studio again. Cristian was actually surprised to hear from Evangeline when she called to set up the meeting. Although he visited her in the hospital when she first lapsed into the coma, a few months later he moved on with his life. He's now dating a nice young lady whom he met at the university when he was conducting an art workshop. He's grateful that Evangeline recovered from her coma and can't guess why she wants to talk to him now.
"Cristian, you're probably wondering why I asked to meet with you. This won't take long. Cristian I first want to thank you again for helping me when I was blind. I was very thankful for your support. What I really want to say is, is … I'm sorry for what happened between us as it relates to Todd Manning. You were right when you said that I had feelings for Todd. But you were wrong to think that they were romantic feelings. I apologize for the confusion. At the time that you asked me I did not know what my feelings were for Todd so I could neither confirm nor deny that they were romantic feelings. I just knew that I felt something for him. I did love you Cristian but it evidently was not enough to stop me from kissing Todd. I was wrong. I hurt you and I am sorry for that. You were right to break up with me, I see that now, though at the moment it really hurt. I was just glad that we were able to at least resolve some of our issues by the time of the gas attack. I hope that you have a happy life Cristian. That's all I want to say."
At a loss for words Cristian sits and stares at Evangeline. After all that she's been through she's here apologizing to him when he's the one who should apologize to her for his treatment of her after their breakup. As time passed, he realized that if she was going behind his back and having a relationship with Manning, she would have never told him about the kiss in the elevator. But he could never forgive her for that kiss and that was all he could think about at the time.
Having said what she came to say, Evangeline gathers her purse and leaves. Cristian says and does nothing in response. By the time that Evangeline makes it home she is both disappointed and relieved. Disappointed at Cristian's lack of response but relieved that she had done what she set out to do. Now she only has one last meeting,
The set up for this last meeting is taking more time that she thought it would. Scheduling conflicts continue to derail ever having the meeting. Evangeline has to leave town for an emergency visit to her mother. She's away for a week and when she returns the other party has a conference out of town for a week. She's beginning to think that maybe she should just forget about meeting at all. Anyway, hasn't it all been said between them. She was not the offender in this relationship. Maybe it's better to just leave things as they are but she knows that she can't. There's one thing that must be said between them.
Layla, Nora and Todd know all about these so-called 'contrition' meetings and they all say the same thing to her, 'You don't have to do this. You don't owe them anything.' Evangeline explains to each of them that she does have to do this. It is only right and just. They each realize that she will follow through until she's done and instead of continuing to fight her about her decision, they change their tune and offer their support. They even go so far as to suggest they give her a party once she completes her 'contrition tour'. She found no humor in their suggestion and vetoed any party. She did tell them that she will take a long week-end vacation when she is done. They are invited to accompany her but the destination is her choice and hers alone. Todd offers to pay for everything and she even surprises him by agreeing to allow him to foot the bill when usually she's always stressing how she 'can pay her own way'.
Finally, they finally get to meet at a coffee shop next door to the Thalia Theater. They both remember that they never did get to view a movie together even though it was one of her first 'date' ideas. Finding their way to a table in the back that will supply them some modicum of privacy they sit and sip on their coffees. They both seem tentative with each other as if not knowing how to act in each other's presence.
Knowing that the sooner she speaks the sooner this will be over Evangeline starts. She's thought for many hours what she would say to John. There will always be a bit of lingering anger for the way that their relationship turned out but she still knows that she does not regret being with him. She still feels that they could have been great together if only he could have committed to their relationship but that did not happen.
As with RJ and Cristian, she wants to clear the air between them. Her ordeal has given her a perspective that one must not allow things to fester and morph into something unrecognizable. Certainly not all people will all agree but lashing out at others is not the solution and so she must not allow her past interactions with John to mar any future interactions she might have with him. Although in the past, after their breakup, it may have appeared that they each had moved on from each other and were in some respect still 'friends' but whenever they encountered each other there was always something there lingering in the background. She never could quite define it but it was definitely some 'unfinished business'.
Looking up from her coffee cup she notices John staring intently at her. Not knowing what caused his stare she asks if she has a smudge on her face.
"No Evangeline. There is no smudge on your face. I'm just so glad to see you awake and aware."
"Well I am thankful to be awake and aware. John thanks for agreeing to meet with me. I'm sure you're wondering why I wanted to meet with you so let me get right to it and it won't take long and you can get back to work."
"Take all of the time that you want Evangeline. I have off for the rest of the afternoon. I wasn't sure why you wanted to talk with me so I didn't want anything to disturb us. I even turned off my phone. See!" He held up his phone to show her that in truth it was turned off and he could tell that she was surprised.
"Wow John! I didn't expect you to go to such measures just for a conversation with 'little ole me' but I appreciate the effort. Now as to why I asked to meet with you. I want to clear the air between us. First, let me say that I still do not regret being with you. Even though our relationship didn't go as I would have liked I still don't regret it. But there are some things that I want to say to you to finally settle in my mind this … I don't know how to clearly express it but it's something still there about you and me.
So many times since we broke up you would say to me that you were sorry and I would respond each time, 'I know but it doesn't' change anything'. And it didn't change anything because you were the same John. I remember sitting in the diner with you waiting for the verdict on Todd's murder case and I told you that I didn't think that you knew how to love. That's when I said that I didn't regret being with you. I lost myself in you John. I loved you so much and I did things and put up with things from you that I never would have done before with anyone."
All while she's talking Evangeline's looking right at John. She doesn't try to read his reactions she just wants to say what she has to say and leave.
"This is not about bashing you over the head for all the things that went wrong in our relationship John. There's still some connection between us and I guess it always will be. There is something special between us even after the hard times. I want to get on with my life without walking on eggshells whenever I'm around you. You may not realize this but I am not perfect. I shout, I swear, I get angry I get scared. I fall, I break, I mess up, I make mistakes*. (*'I shout, I swear … I make mistakes' is the chorus from the song, "At My Best" by Machine Gun Kelly ft. Hailee Steinfeld)
In a way I can truthfully say that I still carry a bit of anger against you for taking up with Natalie so soon after our breakup. One night you come to me drunk talking about you don't want to lose me and days later you're in the hospital comforting her like you never did me and weeks later you're in the police station kissing her. I wanted to slap you, scratch your eyes out, AND hit you with a club. I hated you and that says a lot for me because I try not to waste my time hating people. I delete them from my memory banks but I couldn't delete you. But hey, I said I'm not perfect." Evangeline stops to catch her breath and take another sip of her coffee.
John takes that break in the conversation to respond. He wants to make sure that he doesn't come off as defensive. He's thought a lot about her since they parted and even more so since she recovered from the coma.
"You were right about my not knowing how to love Evangeline. When you said that to me I was a bit offended I must say but that was probably because deep inside I knew that you were right. And yes many times I apologized to you for what happened between us but once again, as you, said, it didn't change anything.
Natalie kept saying that we had some kind of connection because we grew up in the hard streets of Atlantic City. Sure we had that in common and yes I was attracted to her, but initially it was just a front to lure her into working with me on the FBI sting. Once that sting ended with Cristian's so-called death she and I tried a romantic relationship but I wasn't really ready to let go of my grief about Caitlin's death. You already know all of that. I loved Natalie or my version of love anyway. We were together and then broke up so many times I lost count. If I really loved her, really truly, head over heels in love with her we would be married by now and have a couple of kids. After a while we started to look like Todd and Blair Act 2. Even Todd came to his senses and got off that merry-go-round of a relationship with Blair.
When you were injured I realized that I didn't want to live that. Natalie and I were once again 'together then not together' so I sat her down and had a long conversation with her about our relationship. I'm sure you don't want to hear it word for word but the summary of it was that we were through and there was no chance of us getting back together. Of course you know that she didn't believe me. Why would she after all the times we broke up only to get back together again. But I knew then that if I did not get out of that maze of confusion with her that it would destroy both of us. I wanted a life and it didn't include her. Hey, I'm not perfect either.
What I'm really saying to you Evangeline is that I deserve all of the slaps you want to give but understand that I am no longer that person that doesn't know how to love. Yes I was an a*s and yes I made mistakes but I never lied to you. Do you remember when you told me that you loved me and I could not say it back to you and you started to walk away and before you made it out the door I told you that if anyone could change that it is you? If …"
Before John can say anything more Evangeline stands up, takes her purse and walks out of the coffee shop leaving John sitting there with his mouth open unable to finish his sentence. John rushes after her and catches her before she gets to her car. Not wanting to grab her and cause a scene he quietly asked her to stop and give him a chance to finish. She stops but doesn't turn around and he decides not to try to convince her to look at him. He stands behind her and says, "I hate myself for what I did to us but you were right to leave me when you did. I was not good for you as I was. It's stupid how sometimes it takes something terrible to happen for people to realize all that they have lost. Even when I was with Natalie I knew that I had lost something good with you. Now that's the last time I will mention Natalie's name because I don't want this conversation to be about Natalie. This is just about you and me. Before you say that there is no 'you and me' give me a moment, please."
Noticing that she's not moving away from him, he takes that as a signal for him to continue to talk. "I too don't want to have any hard feelings between us. I too want to be able to freely interact with you without worrying about every word that I say in your presence. I know that I have no right to ask anything of you. After all that has happened to you the last thing that you need is any confusion or pain from me. Let me assure you that is not my purpose. I just have one request of you." He stops then and asks her to look at him. He needs to see her eyes, to see her expression when she makes his request. Her eyes and her expression will tell him the truth. Evangeline is a very good attorney and she knows how to mask her expressions so that no one knows what she is thinking. At this moment he wants her to be open with him. He wants her to allow herself to express herself freely.
Evangeline knows what he is asking her to do. He's asking her to drop the mask and let him see her fully. He wants her to open herself up to hear him and feel what he is saying. She thinks about it for a moment and knows that this is the only way to truthfully share with each other. No matter which way this goes she wants to be honest and open so she turns to him and again looks him in the eyes. He reaches out to her but she pulls back from him and he drops his hand to his side. John does not hesitate to continue, "If it is at all possible I request another chance for a relationship with you. However you want me to do it, just let me know. We will go on whatever time period you decide. We can talk, go on dates, go on vacations and the such and do as much as you feel comfortable doing. You can think about it and …"
Evangeline raises her hand to stop him and says, "I don't know what to say John. You've totally surprised me. Unlike you I do not have the rest of the day off so I need to return to my office." With that she walks to her car and leaves John standing on the sidewalk.
After that encounter one would think that John would be devastated but on the contrary he is encouraged. He thinks to himself, 'she didn't say no'.
Author's Note: John wants another chance with Evangeline but she's not ready to even consider a reconciliation. Or is she?