Eva watched the power poles pass by and sighed deeply. “I’m really not sure where to begin.” She felt his hand take hers gently and she looked down, taken aback by how well their hands still fit together. “The other day when you met Sadie and I for dinner at Bella’s? We had been to the see Dr. Hutchins that morning. Sadie thought she was pregnant.” She squinted and leaned against the door. When he didn’t respond, she continued slowly. “She said that Sadie wasn’t pregnant, but her thyroid levels were funky. No meds are needed at this point, she said, but she did put her on the pill.” She dared a look towards Daniel, and saw that muscle in his jaw working; he was pissed. “I didn’t tell you because there was nothing to really tell. The pregnancy test was negative and the thyroid test isn’t telling us much as this point.” She pulled her hand from his and leaned her head against the window.
Daniel didn’t say anything until they got off the interstate. He pulled into the nearest lot, parked the car and turned it off. He sat for a minute with both hands on the wheel before turning towards Eva. When he did, she pushed up against the car door. He reached for hand, and put it to his lips. After he kissed her palm, he took a deep breath and slowly released it.
“I love you,” he said as he closed his eyes. “All of this that we’re dealing with – Sadie, Jared and Louis – just makes me appreciate you more. And I do not want to lose you, again.” When he opened his eyes, Eva was shaking and staring at her hand still lying in his.
“Let’s get through today, okay? Do our shopping, grab take out and go hang with Sadie for a little while,” Eva responded. “After that, we can talk about it. Is that okay,” she asked, and looked him in the eyes. The love she saw in them for her astounded her to the point of gasping, and she was rendered speechless for several minutes. “I always could tell how you felt by looking in your eyes,” she said when she found the courage to speak.
Daniel blushed and looked out the windshield. “Where are we?” he asked after a moment, looking around.
Eva turned and looked out the back window. “I have no idea. I don’t think I even realized you stopped the car.” She shrugged when he looked at her, his eyes narrowed. “Well, I don’t.”
“Does this thing work?” Daniel asked as he punched buttons on the GPS.
“Yeah, I guess so,” she answered, and pulled the manual out of the glove box. “Here, this might help.”
Daniel rolled his eyes and took the book from her. “Thank you,” he said and began flipping the pages. He found what he was looking for held it out to Eva. “Hold this. I’m gonna find out where we are.” He followed the directions and the GPS barked their location at them. “Ha!” he yelled. “I knew I could do it,” he said and smiled at Eva.
“Yes, yes you did,” Eva smiled back. “Now, let’s go shopping.”
Daniel started the car and replied, “Yes, ma’am.”
Louis and Emily spent the day touring Salt Lake with a group from the conference. It was the typical sightseeing tour: big, historical builds and the “So-n-So slept here” highlights. Afterward, they went back to the hotel and had drinks with another couple. Through some conversation, and body language, Louis and Emily discovered their drinking companions led an alternative lifestyle which would be locked behind the proper doors of Ellsworth. Never in a million years would Eva consider this, Louis thought to himself. The couples exchanged contact information and went to their respective rooms. While Emily was in the bathroom, Louis called Eva for the umpteenth time today. Still no answer since this morning. He tossed the phone on the bed and whistled when Emily came out of the bathroom. He wasn’t sure her outfit was legal.
The gentleman followed Louis and Emily throughout the day from a safe distance. He’d been asked to document Louis’ activities and report back daily, and was getting paid enough on this job to stay in the same hotel as his target. As soon as Louis and Emily went to their room, he sent a brief text to Daniel then went to his room for the night.
Dani had decided to spend the night in the hospital with Sadie so she wouldn’t be alone. Eva and Daniel brought enough Chinese for them, the four parents and half the floor nurses. Everyone was grateful, and one nurse told Eva she had “a good man” on her hands with a wink. Eva blushed.
After everyone settled down from eating and talking, Daniel held up the bags from their shopping trip. He handed Sadie and Dani their own bags and stood between their beds. “Okay, now you can see what was so important about Eva and I going to Bangor today.” He raised his arms and said, “Open your treats.”
Sadie suggested Dani go first. When Dani opened her bag and dug through a mountain of tissue paper, she found a black leather portfolio designed to hold standard paper-sized sketches and a wooden box of old-fashioned coal sticks. She looked at the smiling faces of Eva and Daniel, and started crying.
Eva stood next to her bed and put an arm around her shoulders, asking, “What’s wrong, sweetie? Don’t you like it?” She looked at Hilary and Joshua, their mouths open in shock. “Is it too much?” she asked them.
They shook their heads, and Hilary sniffled. “No,” she said. “It’s just…she has been asking for those for a couple months, now. We…we were going to get them for her as a surprise when she goes on the college tour. How did you know she wanted them?”
Daniel moved around to stand next to Joshua. “We didn’t, actually,” he said with a sigh. “But we wanted to do something nice for her and Sadie, so we hit the art store for Dani.” He paused. “We really didn’t know, but I’m glad that’s where we went,” he said and put a hand on Joshua’s shoulder.
Dani recovered and said, “Thank you for this. It’s…beautiful.”
Eva hugged her and said, “You’re welcome, sweetie.” Looking at Sadie she said, “Your turn, babe. Open it up.”
They watched on as Sadie opened her bag. Inside was a new iPad and organizer case to hold it, as well as other writing equipment. “Holy shit!” she exclaimed. “Thanks!”
Dani and her parents were just as dumbfounded by Sadie’s gift as they were Dani’s. “Wow! Those aren’t cheap,” Joshua pointed out. “You had an expensive day in Bangor.”
Daniel thought Joshua sounded almost pissed and irritated. “After what they have been though, it was worth it,” he said, trying to keep the irritation out of his own voice. “Plus, its stuff they can use. It’s not like we went out and blew the money on frivolous things that will sit on a shelf.” Irritation not well-concealed.
Joshua sighed. “That isn’t what I meant. I…Look, I’m sorry. It’s been a long weekend, you know?” He held out his hand in a truce. “Thank you.”
Daniel reluctantly shook it and said, “You’re welcome.” Turning to Sadie he asked, “Will that be helpful? Mom and I thought it could hold your outlines and whatnot. Keep you organized.”
“No, this is perfect,” she answered. “It will do everything I need it to, I think. Can’t wait to get home tomorrow and play with it,” Sadie said with a laugh.
Eva looked at everyone and said, “Okay, I guess it’s that time. Staff will be running us off soon as it is.” She leaned down and gave Sadie a gentle squeeze. “We’ll be back in the morning to rescue you.” She stepped away for Daniel to give his hug, and watched Dani and her parents say goodnight.
As the parents left the girls’ hospital room for the last time that night, they called out their “I love you’s”. Eva suggested she and Hilary go down and have the valets bring the cars around, telling the men to hurry. Joshua and Daniel paused when they stepped out of the elevator.
Daniel turned to face Joshua and said, “Look, man. We didn’t get those for Dani to be assholes and step on toes.” He shrugged and looked at the bank of elevators. “We just wanted to do something nice. That’s all.”
Joshua looked at the floor and shuffled his feet. “Yeah, I know. It’s fine,” he said. “We’ll find something else for her. It’s no big deal.” He stuck out his hand, and Daniel didn’t hesitate in shaking it this time.
“We saw a similar portfolio, but bigger and more expensive. It will fit her larger sketches,” Daniel suggested. Joshua thanked him and they went out to meet Eva and Hilary. They all said their goodbyes and left.
Later that night, Daniel and Eva sat in her living room watching a reality television show. Neither of them dared to speak about what transpired in the car, even though both of them knew they needed to before much longer.
Breaking the silence, Eva said, “I want popcorn and beer. You interested?”
“Can we watch something else, too?” he pleaded.
She laughed. “Yeah, we can. Check out the pay-per-view lineup and I’ll start the popcorn,” she said as she started towards the kitchen. Then she yelled, “And no porn!” In the kitchen, she loaded the popper with kernels and oil, and grabbed a couple beers from the fridge. She heard her phone buzzing on the table and ignored it. After it beeped, indicating she had voice mail, she picked up and listened. Eva deleted it when she heard Louis’ voice. She shook her head and put the phone back. The popcorn was done, so she added the butter and salt, grabbed the beers and went into the living room.
“Mom called,” Daniel said as he watched her sit on the couch beside him. “Her flight lands around noon tomorrow. Do you mind if I use your car since mine’s at the house?” he asked and stuck a hand in the bowl.
Eva popped a piece into her mouth and chased it with a sip of beer. “Yeah, that’s fine. I’m not going to work tomorrow anyways. You can drop me off at the hospital and pick us up after.”
Daniel noted the tension in her voice as well as body language. When she reached in the bowl for another piece, he stopped her. “Eva, what happened while you were in the kitchen?”
She sighed and pulled her hand back slowly. “He called, I didn’t answer and deleted his message.” She paused long enough to gulp from the bottle. “I’m calling a lawyer in the morning, as well as having the security code changed on the alarm,” she confided. “I should’ve seen this coming. It was all but pointed out to me. In fact, Susan even suggested he might be screwing around…I guess I just didn’t want to listen.”
“I think having the code changed is a good idea,” he agreed. “Maybe even have cameras installed on the property.” Eva’s eyes widened, and he put his hand on hers in a reassuring manner. “No, no. I don’t think he actually would try to get in, but it’s always good to be prepared.” When she visibly relaxed, he continued. “Besides, my daughter lives here and I want her to be safe.”
They sat in silence for several minutes before Eva spoke, again. When she did, Daniel was both heartbroken and relieved. “Earlier today you told me you love me,” she said, not able to look him in the eye. “Now is not the time. I can’t get involved – re-involved? With you. Or anyone else, for that matter.” Eva paused and took a deep breath. “But…when this is all sorted and done, maybe we can try again.” She saw him smile out of the corner of her eye. “Love was never our problem. Hell, we didn’t have really any problems. You and I were just too young, I think.”
Daniel picked up and kissed her salty hand. He was overcome and it took him a minute to respond to her words. When he finally spoke, his voice was full of passion and devotion. “I know. These last couple weeks…seeing you more often, doing things sorta like a family – a real family – has made me realize just how much I still love you. I’m not going to apologize for it, and on some twisted level I’m glad Louis fucked up, but I’ll respect your boundaries until you’re ready.” He took a deep breath and confessed, “And, I really like spending the night…just not on the couch.” Daniel heard Eva giggle quietly and added, “You’re adorable.”
“I’ve enjoyed the time we’ve spent together lately, too,” Eva started. “It’s been good for all of us, especially Sadie.” She paused, unsure how to proceed. After a long moment, she continued. “I saw this coming, actually. You and me, I mean.” Daniel cocked an eyebrow. “Oh, stop,” she said and playfully slapped at him. “We’ve been seeing each other a lot, and it brought up old feelings and the last couple days have been…crazy but good. Almost like our time apart never happened.”
Daniel put the popcorn bowl on the floor and pulled her into his lap, ignoring the boundary Eva had put in place. He looked deeply into her eyes and said, “I love you. But not this couch.”
“When this is finished, you won’t have to sleep on the couch anymore.”
Thank you for stopping by and checking out the latest happenings with Eva and the others. As you can see, things are getting REALLY interesting! And it will only get more so 😉